Dominant Eye Test: Determining Which Eye Is Your Dominant Eye

You may have heard the two terms ocular dominance and dominant eye, but are not sure what they mean or how a dominant eye test is performed. So, here are the basics on what you need to know.

What Is a Dominant Eye Test?

The dominant eye is the eye that you are able to see slightly better with. It also is the eyes that more accurately relays and delivers information regarding object location. As a general rule, the dominant eye term is utilized when one is describing the typical visual condition where both eyes function well as a team and have fairly equivalent visual acuity, and one of the eyes is the preferred eye.

However, in some cases, the dominant eye is used to refer to the normally functioning or sighted eye in dysfunctional cases of strabismus or amblyopia.

The Dominant Eye Test

Here is a basic dominant eye test that will allow you to determine the eye that is your dominant, or preferred, eye:

  1. Extend both of your arms out directly in front of you. Create a triangle with your forefingers and thumbs.
  2. With both of your eyes open, center this triangle on an object in the distance like a door knob or a wall clock.
  3. Close your right eye.
  4. If the object remains centered, then your left eye (the eye that is open) is your dominant eye. If the framed object isn’t framed any longer, then your right eye is dominant.

Here is another simple test to determine your dominant eye:

  1. Extend one of your arms out in front of you, with the thumb on that hand in an upright position. You may use your index finger as opposed to your thumb, if you’d like.
  2. Keep both of your eyes open, and focus on an object in the distance. Superimpose your thumb or index finger on that object. It is normal if your thumb or finger partially disappears.
  3. Alternatively close your eyes one at a time.
  4. The eye that keeps your finger or thumb directly in front of the focused object while the other eye is closed is the preferred eye.

Both of these tests are classified as sighting test because they involved aligning a visual target with a temporary sighting device.

There have been some studies that show that sighting eye test, which are simple and usually accurate, can be impacted by handedness and various non-visual factors.

To avoid confounding factors, there are some researchers that dispute that non-sighting preferred eye tests may actually be a more accurate way to establish eye dominance.

With these tests, you are to keep both of your eyes open, and then each eye is presented with visual stimuli separately with special optical devices. Of course, this is where there is limitation with these tests—the equipment used as well as the required expertise for the tests to be performed often is found in specialized research facilities or vision clinics.

In a number of cases, simple tests like those mentioned above tend to accurately identify your preferred eye.

Eye Dominance and Handedness

While eye dominance and being left-handed or right-handed (handedness) aren’t directly related, the traits are considerably associated.

There have been population studies that have been conducted and have shown that roughly 90 percent of individuals are right-handed while roughly 67 percent of individuals are right-eye dominant.

While research shows that the likelihood of a right-handed person being right-eye dominant is high—roughly 2.5 times higher than the chance of an individual being left-eye dominant—it’s possible for eye dominance to be predicted based on handedness alone.

Is It Possible Not to Have a Dominant Eye?

While it is possible, it is uncommon.

If there is not a strong degree of dominance shown in a preferred eye test, it is far more likely for an individual to have mixed eye dominance, which is where one eye is dominant at different times and the other eye is dominant for certain tasks or functions.

Some individuals may conduct a sighting dominant eye test and locate a visual target that isn’t precisely aligned with a triangle between their fingers and thumb or with their thumb or index finger, depending on the type of test that is being conducted, with either eye.

There’s a spectrum of degree when it comes to eye dominance amongst people—the same can be said for handedness. Some individuals may have a strong dominant eye, while other individuals may have a very small difference between their eyes when it comes to dominance.

To a certain degree, though, eye dominance is essentially hardwired into the brain.

Within the visual cortex of the brain, which is the section that processes visual data, are neurons (stripes of nerve cells) that are known as dominant eye columns. These stripes of neurons tend to respond favorably to information from one eye or the other eye and are vital to binocular vision development.

However, researchers tend to believe that there is a bit of plasticity and overlap in these columns, which suggests that eye dominance may be alternating, variable, and even incomplete in some people.

Dominate Eye in Sports, Shooting, and Photography

What exactly is the realistic importance of conducting preferred eye tests?

It helps to know which eye is your dominant one because it can help your performance in an assortment of activities. Here are some examples:

If you’re right-handed and you have a left dominant eye, the cross-dominance can create challenges for accurate shooting.

Dominant Eye in Sports

Like most people, if you are right-handed with a dominant right eye, there are some sports that will require a head position to take full advantage of that preferred eye.

For instance, in softball or baseball, your head needs to be turned enough while batting that your dominant right eye is able to see the rotation, position and speed of the approaching pitch clearly. The same can be said of the game of cricket.

One more example if the game of golf. Putts need to be properly aligned—as well as fairway shots and drives—and this requires adequate turns of the head in order to fully use your dominant eye so that you can visualize the shot you are taking. It also requires that you accurately position your club head and body to achieve that.

Dominant Eye While Shooting

If you are having difficulty striking moving targets with your rifle or shotgun, then it may be that you have crossed dominant, which means that your dominant hand and dominant eye are on opposites sides of the body.

For instance, if you’re a right-handed (and as a result, right-shouldered) shooter, yet you have left eye dominance, you may notice that you are shooting in front of a right-to-left target on-the-move and behind a left-to-right moving target. If you are aware of this, you can make the proper adjustments to ensure that you improve your accuracy with shooting.

One other option that you have for compensating for cross-dominance is to ensure your eyes are both open until right before the shot is taken. By doing this, it will enable you to utilize 100 percent of your depth perception and peripheral vision to prepare for your shot. Closing the cross-dominant left eye prior to taking the shot allows the final second adjustment to more properly align the rifle barrel with the target that is moving.

Dominant Eye with Photography

It is important to be familiar with which eye is your preferred eye when creating a photograph when peering through the viewfinder of a camera. Utilizing your dominant eye will provide you with an accurate picture of the shot. Utilizing your non-dominant eye may cause certain details to be slightly off-frame or displaced laterally.

If sports are something that you are serious about and you need some guidance on how to best utilize your eyes to enhance your performance, reach out to use at Performance Vision.