Just like having a dominant hand, it is possible to have a dominant eye. In most cases, people do not realize that one eye is dominant. (Read More)

You can determine if one of your eyes is dominant with some testing. It is relatively simple to perform and does not cause any pain. (Learn More)

If you have a dominant eye, there are some possible implications. (Read More) Sometimes, treatment is necessary to correct a dominant eye. (Learn More)

What Is a Dominant Eye?

obscured view of young female patient getting eye test in clinic

Most people have a dominant hand they give preference to when performing a variety of tasks. A dominant eye is a similar concept.

When someone has a dominant eye, it gives a little more information to the brain’s visual center. This often means it provides information that is more accurate about an object’s location.

There are three primary types of eye dominance.

  • Motor dominance: This type is characterized by the eye being less likely to lose its fixation close to the convergence near point.
  • Sighting dominance: This type occurs when one eye is preferred when fixating on a target.
  • Sensory dominance: This type is characterized by one of the eye’s vision being stronger than the other.

For most people, this is a normal visual condition. Their eyes are still essentially working as a team, and the visual acuity in both eyes is mostly equal. One eye is simply preferred, or it is the eye that leads.

It is estimated that left eye dominance is observed in about 57 percent of people who are left-handed and 35 percent of people who are right-handed.

There are cases where a dominant eye is present in dysfunctional cases of strabismus and amblyopia. Strabismus is characterized by the eyes not working together as a team, resulting in them not being able to maintain proper alignment. It can be intermittent or constant.

There are different types of strabismus.

  • Exotropia: One eye goes outward.
  • Esotropia: One eye goes inward.
  • Hypotropia: One eye goes downward.
  • Hypertropia: One eye goes upward.

Amblyopia is the medical term for a lazy eye. This condition results from the brain and eye not working as a team. The brain essentially favors one eye over the other.

Why Be Concerned About a Dominant Eye?

Eye dominance itself is generally not a concern. However, if someone has a condition where eye dominance is a symptom, such as strabismus or amblyopia, there are some things that can be done to improve vision.

A dominant eye can be beneficial for certain activities. For example, if someone is a shooter, a dominant eye can make hitting moving targets easier. It can also be beneficial for certain sports, such as baseball and golf. People who practice photography can also benefit from a dominant eye.

Testing for a Dominate Eye

Happy Woman Enjoying Nature on grass meadow on top of mountain cliff with sunrise

If you want to determine which eye is dominant, you can use various techniques to get your answer. The Miles Test is a popular option, and it is simple to perform. The purpose is to evaluate vision quickness and sharpness.

This test uses the following steps:

  • Face your palms away from your body and put your arms out in front of your body.
  • Form a small hole with your hands, crossing the forefingers and thumbs.
  • Look at something that is about 20 feet in the distance.
  • Keep both eyes open and look at it via the hole made with your hands.
  • Close one eye and then open it. This should show the object you’re focusing on either jumping to the side or disappearing from the hole you made with your hands.
  • If the object does not jump when one eye is covered, this is your dominant eye.

The Point Test is another option. To perform this test, use the following steps:

  • Pick a distance target, such as a vase or a hanging photo.
  • Using both hands, point at it with your hands intertwined so that both index fingers are pointed at it.
  • While fixating on it, alternate between closing one eye and then the other.
  • The dominant eye is the one that remains lined up with the target.

What Are the Treatment Options?

A dominant eye typically does not require any treatment. If it is associated with amblyopia or strabismus, it’s usually necessary to treat these conditions.

Early treatment options for amblyopia generally consists of the following:

  • Eyeglasses
  • Vision therapy
  • Eyedrops
  • Eye patching

You may be prescribed one of these methods or a combination of them. Early intervention is imperative for the best outcome, but it is possible to see improvements in a lazy eye no matter how old you are when you start treatment.

To treat strabismus, eyeglasses can be beneficial for some people. If these are not effective, there are surgical procedures that may help to correct eye muscles that are unbalanced. Doctors might also blur or patch the strong eye to give the weaker eye a chance to catch up so they are even.

If you have a dominant eye that concerns you, work with an eye doctor to determine the best path forward. Together, you can come up with a treatment plan that fits your individual needs.

References

Eye-Dominance, Writing Hand, and Throwing Hand. (April 1999). Laterality.

Strabismus and Crossed Eyes. All About Vision.

Amblyopia. National Eye Institute.

How to Determine Eye Dominance. (July 2019). Verywell Health.

A Comparison Between the Miles ABC Method and Retinal Rivalry Tests of Ocular Dominance. American Journal of Psychology.

Strabismus Treatment. (September 2012). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

What Is Amblyopia or Lazy Eye? Optometrists Network.