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Eye Dominance

Free Eye and Snowflaked Lashes Creative Commons

Free Eye and Snowflaked Lashes, by D Sharon Pruitt

Most people know whether they are right handed or left handed, but do you know which of your eyes is dominant?  If you use the LCD screen on the back of your camera or if you rely on autofocus, then it may not matter that much.  However, if you use a viewfinder and especially if you are manual focusing then it is important to stack the odds in your favor and use your dominant eye for the task.  Most cameras (maybe all cameras?  Let me know if you know of an exception) are designed for right-handed, right-eyed people.  Rangefinders especially favor right-eyed people because the viewfinder is on the far left of the camera,  which means that right-eyed people will have no problem avoiding a squished nose, but left-eyed people won’t be so lucky.  Film SLR’s (digital or film) usually have the viewfinder near the center, but sometimes it’s offset to the left.  With no controls on the rear of the camera body, film SLR’s are probably the most neutral towards left or right eye dominance.  Digital SLR’s put the majority of buttons and switches on the right side of the LCD screen, so left-eyed people might accidentally push buttons with their nose but right-eyed people often smudge up the LCD screen with their noses.  It’s lose-lose when using a DSLR for those of us with larger noses.

Eye Am Feeling Silly

Eye Am Feeling Silly, by Cayusa

If you don’t know which of your eyes is dominant, WikiHow has an interesting test you can do to find out.  Click the link to get the step-by-step, but the basic idea is to look at a small object through a peep-hole you make with your hands and then close your eyes one at a time to figure out which eye the object is visible to.  I guess the test is supposed to work because you can’t see the object with both eyes at the same time, so you are subconsciously looking at the object with your preferred eye.

When I do the test, I consistently find that my right eye is dominant, but I know from experience that I often use my left eye when taking photographs.  I think it’s something I should pay a little more attention to, because I find myself switching between eyes.  I’m not sure if there is a connection between which eye is dominant and which eye has better vision.  For playing pool, you should use your dominant eye, but for manual focusing a camera, maybe whichever eye has better vision would be best.

Do you have a dominant eye, and which one is it?

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90 thoughts on “Eye Dominance

    • A.F Walking says:

      What I think would be an interesting test is to discover if there is a link between left/right eye dominance and right/left brain dominance. Are the dominance of eye and brain linked – as we know eye and brain are…?

      • I can imagine an experiment comparing pictures taken of a static subject using only the right eye or only the left eye and then comparing the compositions. Maybe some of them would be more structured and the others would be more “creative”?

      • terii says:

        Ah, that little comment about running for cover brings back disturbing memories of the ONE time we had Archery for P.E. at school. One of the students shot the teacher in the back. Needless to say, it cut our archery lesson short.

        As for me, I’m dominant on the right for the hand and eye though I think I tend to lead off with my left foot when walking, but I always lead with the right when it comes to getting my bike moving.

        P.S. The teacher was fine. The arrow barely broke the skin.

      • Wow, I’m glad the teacher was OK. I guess that’s the advantage of the kids not knowing how to shoot well. I wonder if the teacher’s underwear fared worse than his or her health?

  1. Great post! I’ve just done the test and confirmed my own preference to use my left eye for photography. I’m fairly ambidextrous, though write with my right, play instruments and throw left handed, and apparently fasten chains and necklaces left handed. I own a Nikon D90 and don’t have a problem with the controls or a squished nose. Very interesting. I’d never really thought about being left or right eyes before.

  2. mine is definitely my left eye. i’m right handed, but lead off with my left foot in everything, too. my mother was naturally left handed, but forced to write with her right hand in school, and thus became semi-ambidextrous. i wonder if there’s any connection…

    • I’ve heard a lot of stories from my parents and grandparents about being forced to write with their right hands. I can’t imagine such a thing today, but I know my left-handed brother struggles with smearing whatever he just wrote. I don’t know if there’s any connection between handedness and eyedness, but there are probably other factors like which eye has better vision, too.

  3. This is very interesting. I am righthanded but left eye dominant. I have always been able to wink with my right eye which allowed my left eye to be ready for the viewfinder. Cool information and congrats on being freshly pressed.

  4. PeacockWings says:

    Since I often play with photography a lot I have always known my right eye was dominate but i had never done that test like the WikiHow.. very interesting.

  5. I remember an archery monitor was talking to me about this when I was nineteen. He looked at my eyes and said “Your left eye is dominant, I can tell.” “Errr… No, It’s the right one.” “Ok, grab the arch and pretend you were going to shoot and we’ll see which eye you use. – I did it – Well… you were right.”

    I’ve always known my right eye is dominant because I used to play a lot with my eyes when I was a kid. In fact, my favourite game was looking at things when there were objects in the way and check which eye was seeing them. This is how I discovered my right eye was dominant.

    But I’ve always tried to go further and make my left eye dominant for a while. It’s not as hard as it may seem, but you don’t make it completely dominant. At least I don’t. I just focus on the main thing and there’s a gradient from the left-eye-focused main thing to the right-eye-focused surrounding. It’s funny.

    • Before I got my contacts, I didn’t realize that one of my eyes had worse vision than the other. Now that I have the contacts and they both see the same, I find that I have trouble choosing which eye.

  6. I just found this out too, when I was learning to shoot a pistol. My instructor told me I was “incorrect”, since I’m right-handed- he said I couldn’t be left-eye dominant. But I am. I’ve always used my left eye with the viewfinder and hold the phone to my left ear with my left hand. My eye doctor confirmed this last month and she was surprised she’d never noticed it after seeing me for 20 years! Thanks for bringing this up, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    • Thanks. It’s always nice being told you’re incorrect when it’s something you can’t change. I don’t know how much of a biological connection there is between handedness and eye dominance, but there is certainly an ergonomic connection with some items.

  7. btf says:

    Cool test. I had a hunch that I was left-eye dominant already because whenever I look through microscopes with two eye pieces in lab, I always end up just using my left-eye 😛 The test confirmed my suspicions. My nose isn’t very large though, so I don’t remember having too much problems with the viewfinder on cameras when I was younger… then again, it has been a while since I’ve used a camera without an LCD screen, and my nose has probably grown since then. 😛 I’ll watch for it next time!

  8. Generation 26 says:

    Oooh! I remember the doctor telling me which eye is more dominant. I just can’t remember which one. I think it’s my right. I remember he said there was only a little difference since my eyes suck. I’m near sighted in the left, far sighted in the right, I have astigmatism, everything I just said my mother and her sister have, blindness and a bunch of other eye problems run on both sides of my family. I never stood a chance lol

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  10. Another left eyed person here, left handed too. Have been thinking a lot about handedness and the way kitchen kit is set up for right handed use, never thought about it in the context of my camera though. Thanks for this illuminating post! And congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Thanks, and you’re right, most products are designed with right-handed people in mind. I cringe whenever I see left handed people try to use the mouse at a computer. It looks like they struggle.

  11. Interesting post, thanks!
    We had a weird neighbor who used to make her son throw a baseball 100 times a day with his left eye patched to strengthen his right eye….she thought it would make him more “right-brained”!

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  13. I haven’t used my viewfinder in a while (10 years) but I took a moment to finally use it. I can’t even open my left eye when looking in the viewfinder. So I guess my right is more dominate. 🙂

    This was an interesting read. I never thought about this till you wrote it. Thanks.

  14. That’s kinda cool. Tried it and I am right-eye dominant. I guess this is good because this is the eye I use when looking through my camera’s viewfinder. Before I knew this, I wondered about how I was viewing things through my camera–whether or not I was using the best eye. But I never tried using my left eye because, as you point out, the position of the buttons and the viewfinder are situated to better suit use of my right eye.

    However, I do wonder if constant use of my right eye like this will cause any kind of deterioration of the right eye faster than the left. I’m definitely sure it will cause more wrinkles to my left eye area from all the squinting I do with that eye while trying to focus with the right! I have tried to make an effort not to squint with my left eye when looking with my right eye when I had to help shoot a wedding because when you do that for several hours, you feel it.

  15. Pingback: I am Right-Eyed « On Silence… There’s Still No Difference… There’s No Peace, No Bliss

  16. Lol I just did the WikiHow test at work and my right eye is dominant! Whenever I take photos I always find myself switching from left to right eye too…For some reason it seems like my right eye takes a while to adjust to looking through a lens. *Shrugs* Thanks for sharing this great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed 🙂

  17. I’m left-eye dominant and right-handed. I discovered it when shooting rifles and doing archery at my kid’s cub scout camp. Despite this handicap, I managed to be the best shot of all the moms.
    But let me tell you, it’s not easy sighting with your non-dominant eye, but it would be downright dangerous to shoot with your non-dominant hand!

  18. i think i’m left-eye dominant since i always use my left eye when i aim the practice target with my rifle or when i take a pic with my camera….although i’m right-handed….it’s kinda weird

    anyway, thanks for the info and congrats on being Fhresly Pressed!

  19. I am definitely right eye dominant but do switch between eyes like you. It’s hard to explain. It doesn’t have to do with the quality of my vision but sometimes when I try to use my right eye it is like my eye lashes reflect in the glass or something and I can’t look through the viewfinder of my camera. That is when I switch to my left and see through perfectly though usually it is harder for me to use the left eye. I am not sure if my brain is switching gears or sides rather to the more creative right side. Who knows?!

  20. That’s something I never noticed, the ‘dominant eye’ except I always wondered why one of my eyes seemed closed in a lot of pictures (that I might not have noticed except I take a flat expression in a lot of photographs). I noticed it in a lot of people in the area I live in as well. I have my speculations…

    • Don’t get me started on closing one of my eyes in pictures. My left eyelid ends up half-closed in at least 80% of pictures taken of me. Others don’t understand that telling me to “just don’t close your eye!” doesn’t help. That’s why I try to stay behind the camera.

  21. I’ve always taught the eye-dominance trick in archery lessons. But mine is a bit different. You make the peephole with your hands, focus on a small, distant object through the peephole, then slowly move your hands backward, keeping the object in focus, until your hands are up against your face, and you are unmistakeably looking through one eye (the other will be covered by a hand.) See if this changes your outcome at all. 🙂

  22. “Do you have a dominant eye, and which one is it?”

    Actually, everyone has a dominant eye.

    The easiest way to know which of your two eyes is the dominant one, is to stretch your hands, point it to something in front of you. Then close each of your eyes, one at a time.

    If your finger moved to the right when you closed your right eye, and if your finger didn’t move at all when you closed your left eye, then your dominant eye is the right one. If the opposite happened to you, then your dominant eye is the left one.

    Isn’t it amazing that we humans have two eyes yet we just use one eye most of the time?

  23. Be sure that you check your eye dominance before buying your first bow. This is an often overlooked but one of the most important discoveries for any person or athlete who is participating in any sport that requires physical movement to propel an object accurately to a target or position on a field.

    • I know very little about archery. Do they design different bows for right-handed/left-eyed vs. right-handed/right-eyed people? Or do you choose the handedness of the bow based only on eye dominance?

  24. Right eye dominant people should partake in all shooting sports as right-handed participants. Left eye dominant people should participate as lefties. Exceptions can be made to this general rule but most of the exceptions have to do with physical adversities.

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