Depth Perception

Humans use many clues to determine where we are and where other objects are in space, often to a very precise degree.

In it’s most basic form this involves cues from the environment such as our internal database of what the size of objects should be, whether an object is blocking the view of another, as well as the relative speed of moving objects (motion parallax).  Often only one eye is necessary for us to make these judgments.

The next level involves anatomical cues which send signals to the brain and alert us when something is close or far away.  When objects are close to the eyes, they require extra focusing power to be seen clearly.  When our accommodation clicks in to keep these objects clear, it is a clue to our brains that they are near to us.  Convergence is another physiologic clue and skill that is required to avoid a double image and to align the eyes properly any closer than around 20 feet away.

Our highest level of depth perception is stereopsis.  Stereopsis is the rich sensation of three dimensions we get only when both our eyes are working very well together.  Vision problems such as eye-turns (strabismus), amblyopia, or even improperly corrected visual acuity can degrade this special sense and reduce performance in work and sports.

 

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