Your World in 3-D: Stereoscopic Vision and Depth Perception

Have you ever paused to think about the world around you and how you see it? Generally speaking, humans have two eyes that take in their surroundings and one brain that processes this information. Although your eyes may work mostly in the same way, they perceive the same object slightly differently from each other.

Your brain then merges the two images into one 3-Dimensional image in a process called stereopsis. Fancy jargon aside, let’s dive into the world of depth perception and the eye testing your Optometrist will do to protect this important part of your vision.

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What is Stereoscopic Vision Testing?

Stereopsis, most commonly known as depth perception, is the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions. This process that we use every moment of every day allows a person to judge where an object is relative to him or her. Some examples of the way we using stereo vision are:

  • Playing catch
  • Driving a car
  • Giving someone a high five
  • Placing a plate, or glass, gently down on a table
  • Pouring into a glass
  • Going down a hill

Your Calgary Eye Doctor can provide an eye exam for both adults and children that can test your Stereoscopic vision and depth perception. There are many types of depth perception eye exams such as the Random Dot vs. Contour Tests, Titmus Stereo Test, TNO Stereo Test, Lang Stereo Test, Frisby Stereo Test, and/or the Random Dot Stereo Tests. These are all effective ways to measure your Stereoscopic Vision and help your Optometrist identify if you have any concerns that need to be addressed.

Depth Perception Eye Exam Benefits

As with many types of eye exams, one of the biggest benefits of testing your depth perception is early intervention. Stereoscopic vision and depth perception testing can help identify vision impairments such as:

  • Amblyopia: more commonly known as lazy eye, Amblyopia is a disorder in which the brain fails to process inputs from one eye and over time begins to favour the other eye resulting in a misalignment of the eyes.
  • Strabismus: also known as cross-eyes, Strabismus is a condition in which both eyes do not look in the same direction at the same time.
  • Suppression: This condition happens when the brain ignores the visual cues of one eye due to weakness in that eye.
  • Trauma: having an undiagnosed trauma to the eye can reduce the quality of your depth perception.

Identifying these issues early can have a big impact on correcting them. Your optometrist can complete a thorough eye examination for you or your child, diagnose, and correct any vision impairments affecting depth perception. Early intervention can help improve your child’s learning and social development. And for adults, it can improve the ability to drive and comfortably navigate the world you live in.

How to Correct a Depth Perception Impairment

So you have had your eye exam and your optometrist has identified your depth perception needs correction. What might that look like? There are options available:

  • Eye Glasses: corrective lenses can help with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and can help straighten misaligned eyes.
  • Surgery: in more severe cases surgery may be required by an Ophthalmologist.
  • Eye Patch: a temporary eye patch may be prescribed by your eye doctor to help strengthen the weaker the eyes
  • Treatment of Underlying Conditions: sometimes an underlying issue may be causing your Stereoscopic vision to be performing abnormally.
  • Therapy: both adults and children can benefit from vision therapy. This essentially allows you to retrain your eye-brain connection.

If your eye exam determines that you have depth perception issues, the team at Specs in the City will develop a treatment plan with a combination of strategies to help correct and strengthen your eye’s abilities.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Stereo Vision?

Stereo Vision defined is as to how each of your eyes has the ability to see an object from different angles, but then combines these separate views to produce a 3-Dimensional image.

How do you know if you have poor depth perception?

Some signs or symptoms of impaired depth perception are:

  • Difficulty reading
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Disinterest in playing any sports (especially in children)
  • Double vision
  • Overlapping vision
  • Difficulty learning
  • Clumsiness

Many of these symptoms can be easily dismissed. But having your eyes checked by your eye doctor will help to rule out any underlying vision problems that may be causing issues for you, or your child. Book in for your routine eye exam today.

Does depth perception change as we age?

In a word, yes. As with all parts of your body, your eyesight will change as you get older, so if you notice your depth of vision changing it’s time to connect with your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam including Stereoscopic Vision testing. Typically, this type of exam is completed by correctly identifying the "closer" circle in each pattern of a series of patterns shown to you by the eye doctor


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