How to tell which eye is your dominant eye
19 August 2021
Is there such thing as a ‘dominant eye’?
We all know that most of us tend to have a dominant hand that we use for writing and that we use one half of our body more than the other. However, the human body also has a dominant eye. Figuring out which one of your eyes is the dominant one can help you during certain activities such as shooting, photography or sport. Whether you’re looking to improve your performance or you’re merely curious, there are a few easy tests you can complete to find out which eye is your dominant eye.
What is a dominant eye?
A dominant eye isn’t necessarily the eye with better vision – rather, it’s the eye that leads better than the other due to preference. Your dominant eye is the one that contributes more to the visual cortex of your brain and relays information with more accuracy, including the location of objects. The term is usually used when describing eyes that function well and have comparatively equal visual acuity, but it can also describe the normally sighted and functioning eye in cases of strabismus and amblyopia.
Research has also shown that ocular dominance and handedness have been associated with each other, though they are not directly related. If you are right-handed you will likely be right eye-dominant. However, although they are not linked scientifically, population studies suggest that 90% of people are right-handed, while only 67% of those are right-eye dominant. This is called cross dominance, as it’s also possible to be right-handed and left-eye dominant and vice versa.
How do you know which eye is dominant?
While hand dominance does not necessarily relate to ocular dominance, a dominant eye test is a useful way of discovering which of your eyes is the dominant eye. There are a variety of tests you can do to help you figure it out, for example:
- Extend your arms and create a triangular shape with your hands, focusing this shape on an object in the distance e.g. a clock.
- Close your left eye while you continue to look at this object.
- If the object stays in the centre of the triangle, your right eye (the eye you’re keeping open) is your dominant eye. If the object is not within the triangular shape, your left eye is your dominant eye.
Alternatively, here’s another test you could use to determine which eye is your dominant eye:
- Extend one hand and hold out your thumb in front of a distant object.
- While you hold your thumb in front of the object, close each eye one at a time.
- The eye that keeps your thumb directly in front of the object while your other eye is closed is your dominant eye.
Which eye dominance is more common?
As right-handedness is more common, right eye dominance is also more common than left as only a third of the world’s population is left eye dominant. While it’s possible to have cross dominant eyes (as mentioned above) it’s also possible to have no preference in either eye, meaning that one eye is dominant for certain functions and the other eye is dominant for other functions. This is called mixed ocular dominance.
Is it possible to change your dominant eye?
If you would like to train yourself in becoming more comfortable with using your non-dominant eye, it is possible to do so by wearing an eye patch, which is the main form of treatment for amblyopia (lazy eye). The reason why wearing an eye patch could help you use your non-dominant eye is because it relaxes the dominant eye, and presents it with an unchanging visual field containing nothing of visual importance. This allows the brain to focus solely on the weaker eye, so in time you can feel more comfortable using your non-dominant eye. Unfortunately, this can lead to irritation and frustration at first, as it will take some time before your brain can fully adapt to not being able to use the dominant eye.
One of the main reasons for wanting to ‘switch’ dominant eyes is due to certain sports (such as archery) that rely on having good aim to shoot. Archers who struggle with cross dominance may want to train themselves to use their weaker eye to make the sport easier for themselves.
Why is it important to know which eye is your dominant eye?
There are a few different activities (some of which we mentioned earlier) that rely on eye dominance to improve performance as much as possible. Therefore, discovering which eye is your dominant eye is important if you take part in activities such as:
- Sports: In certain sports such as archery, being able to take full advantage of your dominant eye is crucial to ensure you perform to the best of your ability. If you don’t know which eye is your dominant eye or you suffer from cross dominance, the positioning of your head will be off target which can throw you off your aim. Other sports that rely on eye dominance include golf, basketball, and cricket.
- Shooting: If you like to go shooting, you’ll know that your dominant eye plays a significant role in being able to hit a moving target. Doing a test to discover which eye is more dominant could improve your accuracy with hitting a target. Cross dominance can especially make this difficult, therefore adjusting your technique and positioning and knowing which eye to fixate with can improve your performance.
- Photography: When it comes to photography, it’s very useful to know which eye is your dominant eye as it can help you frame your shot properly when looking through the viewfinder of a camera. Using your dominant eye means you can get a more accurate preview of the shot and better alignment, so your shot won’t be out of frame. This will reduce the chances of any details being displaced in your photo.
Knowing which eye is your dominant eye essentially doesn’t have any medical importance as long as you’re not experiencing any vision problems. It can be useful to know if you engage in the sports mentioned above and photography or if you’re simply curious and would like to find out. As specialist equipment is not needed to discover your dominant eye, you can follow these easy tests at home to find out which eye is more dominant.
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