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With review and feedback from CEENTA Ophthalmologists Adrian Elfersy, MD (Concord, Salisbury), Timothy Saunders, MD (SouthPark, Matthews), and Donald Stewart, MD (SouthPark, Matthews)

When staring out a window, some objects appear near while other objects appear far off in the distance. You can tell how far they are just by looking at them. This phenomenon is called depth perception. But why do we have it, and how does it work?

What is depth perception?

Depth perception is the ability to see objects in three dimensions and to judge how far away they are.

How do we see depth?

To determine distances, we use both binocular (two eyes) and monocular (one eye) cues. The most important binocular cue used to estimate depth is stereopsis. This is the ability of the brain to take images from each individual eye and create a 3D composite image. Think of it like 2 different cameras shooting and the brain acting as the computer to put them together and give the image depth.

Can people with one eye see depth?

People who have just one seeing eye, or monocular vision, often have a harder time with depth perception. But, if their vision is good in the one eye, the brain can utilize some monocular cues such as object size and visual angles to approximate some depth.

Are there other conditions that could minimize my depth perception?

Some people do have medical conditions that can limit their depth perception. These include eye-specific conditions such as strabismus, amblyopia (lazy eye), diplopia (double vision), blurry vision in one eye (from a variety of factors like macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, etc.), optic nerve damage, and trauma. Damage to certain parts of the brain can also impact depth perception given that the brain processes all the visual input from the eyes.

We’ll help you see depth

If you have problems with your depth perception or any part of your vision, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with the eye doctors at CEENTA. They’ll help make sure everything you see in all three dimensions is nice and clear.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment with a CEENTA eye doctor? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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