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Dominant Eye Test: How to Determine Your Dominant and Non-Dominant Eye

A dominant eye test produces results that explain which of a person’s two eyes is more dominant than the other. 

woman getting dominant eye test

The exams do not determine which eye sees more clearly, only which eye is the one used primarily for vision.

What Is a Dominant Eye Test?

Dominant eye tests tell which eye is the stronger of two to produce the most vision. They do not give results about visual acuity.

The dominant eye, or ocular dominance, is where you prefer visual function from one eye over the other. 

Dominant eye tests are fast, non-invasive and accurate.

Types of Dominance Tests

Three types of eye dominance exist:

  • Motor dominance
  • Sighting dominance
  • Sensory dominance

Motor Dominance

It occurs when there is variability in the vergence of your eyes. Vergence is a movement where both eyes go in the opposite directions as they try to maintain a single binocular vision.

In motor dominance, your less dominant eye will diverge as you try to maintain vision on a particular object. On the other hand, the dominant eye is more likely to maintain fixation on the target object.

Sighting Dominance

It happens when you prefer one eye when trying to fixate on an object

Sensory Dominance

In this instance, the dominant eye has better vision than the other.

Dominant vs. Non-Dominant Eye

Apart from the visual preference, other significant factors differentiate a dominant from a non-dominant eye, such as:

Dominant Eye Tests

You can determine which of your eyes is dominant by conducting one or more of three tests: a hole-in-the-card test, a near convergence test or a miles test.

Hole-in-the-Card Test

This visual acuity test does not take long, and it distinguishes between the better-seeing of the two eyes. It is administered in four steps for each eye:

  1. Take a black paper card and make a hole 3 cm wide at the center.
  2. Hold the card in front of your eyes at arm’s length. Hold it with both hands.
  3. Stand three meters (10 feet) away and cover one eye, then read one letter through the hole.
  4. Repeat the procedure with the other eye.

Results: The eye that better sees the letter through the hole is the dominant one.

Near Convergence Test

This is the simplest of the three tests, with two steps:

  1. Hold a stick 40 centimeters from your eyes.
  2. Slowly bring the stick towards your nose bridge until your binocular fixation point breaks.

Results: The eye that maintains focus as you move the stick towards your nose is the dominant one.

Miles Test

The test is similar to the hole in card test, except you use your hands instead of paper. The process is:

  1. Extend your hands such that they are in front of your eyes and your palms facing away from you
  2. Crisscross your hands such that you make a triangular-shaped hole. It should be between your two index fingers and thumbs.
  3. View an object 3 meters away through the hole with your eyes open.
  4. Close one eye first and view the object again through the hole. 
  5. Repeat the procedure with the other eye.

Results: If the object doesn’t disappear as you change the view from one eye to another, then that is the dominant eye.

Eye Dominance and Handedness

There is a poor correlation between hand and eye dominance. Although people with the dominant right eye are mostly right-handed and vice versa, this is not always the case. A case study showed that one in three people are left-eyed, and one in 10 are left-handed. Further:

  • Genetics can affect your eye-hand coordination.
  • The throwing hand is more associated with the dominant eye than the writing hand.

Is No Dominant Eye Possible?

Although rare, some people don’t have a dominant eye as the difference in dominance is too little to detect using the dominance test.

If this is the case, you likely have mixed eye dominance, where dominance moves from one eye to another depending on the position of the object you are viewing.

Importance of Eye Dominance

Although not necessary, identifying your dominant eye is important when it comes to the following activities:

  • Playing sports: Some sports, such as baseball, require focusing on a target. During the game, your dominant eye must work in conjunction with your dominant hand for better performance.
  • Shooting: It is also essential in rifle marksmanship, which is your accuracy in shooting a firearm and hitting a moving object. 
  • Taking photos: Taking pictures with the dominant eye helps eliminate misalignment in your photos.

Eye Dominance Vision Correction

Doctors also consider eye dominance when carrying out various vision corrective procedures. For instance, doctors usually perform sensory eye dominance in people who have presbyopia and who want their vision corrected with monovision therapy.

This treatment aims at correcting your vision such that your dominant eye focuses on distant objects while the non-dominant one focuses on objects that are up close.

Research proves that visual acuity is higher in the dominant eye than in the non-dominant one. The finding helps doctors determine the appropriate corrective contact lenses and surgery for your eyes.

References

  1. Eye Dominance. (June 2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  2. The difference in myopia progression between non-dominant and dominant eye in patients with intermittent exotropia. (2020 Jun). Graefe’s Archive of Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology.

  3. Ocular sensory dominance and viewing distance. (January 2017). Nova Southeastern University.

  4. The role of vision dominance on focus performance in monovision presbyopia corrections. (May 2015). Journal of Vision.

  5. Comparing accommodative functions between the dominant and non-dominant eye. (March 2014). Graefe’s Archive of Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology.

  6. Ocular Dominance and Visual Function Testing. (November 2013). Journal of Vision.

  7. The relation between ocular dominance and horizontal gaze angle. (2001 June). Vision Research, Vol. 41, Issue 14. 

  8. Ocular dominance in baseball players. (January 1999). Journal American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  9. Handedness and eye-dominance: a meta-analysis of their relationship. (March 1996). Laterality.

  10. Association between eye dominance and training for rifle marksmanship: a pilot study. (February 1996). Journal of the American Optometric Association.

  11. Eyedness. (1976). Acta Anatomica.

Last Updated May 3, 2022

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