Stereo versus monocular vision through Anthony’s eyes

–written by anthony d’agostino
for permissions see end of item

hand readhing for sky and cloudIf people truly had zero depth perception, how could they function? Everything could be like that game you play when you were a kid where you hold the moon in between your two fingers. Or that “Kids in the Hall” skit, where the guy looks through his fingers and says “I’m crushing your head!” and then he squeezes the people on the street people between his finger and thumb. But people can tell when things are distant or eye or two

But there is more to depth perception that stereo-vision. Objects that are further away get lighter in color and can be hazier than objects that are closer to you. There are also differences in size and proportion.

People who see with one eye could learn to rely on these cues to a greater degree than those who use two eyes.

My exotropia was alternating and intermittent from the time I was 7 until my late teens when it became nearly permanent. I would always choose one eye or the other..and I kept the ability to pull them in for photographs or first meeting people.

When I did the binocular vision tests in the Ophthalmologist’s office, looking with one eye…the objects on the card did not pop-out at all. When I consciously pulled my eyes in prior to surgery…the letters and (in my case it happened to be) insects jumped off the card like a 3-d movie. It was at a hospital mainly for everything was Elmo! and Finding Nemo..and cute animals and bugs!

For me…the difference between stereo-vision and monocular vision is: The front of a curved brown-stone building in Boston, is more curved. The texture of grass appears more “grass like,” and detailed. The shadows and highlights that help to illustrate the edges of textures is more evident. From my perspective, I am able to perceive more of the “aliveness” and “tension” contained in the object I am viewing when I am using both eyes. The variation in tones is more evident to me and the curvature of things.

I sometimes thought of my strabismus-vision as a string that was de-tuned. Sorry for the synaesthesic analogy, but when the string was flat. After surgery…my larger field of vision seems to just “float” in front of me, more like a taut string, ready to resonate.

Maybe there are two headlights illuminating the distant object now instead of just one.

Essay and Photo credits: Written by anthony d’agostino (anthony_dagostino AT yahoo DOT com) in our EyesApart email support group, used here by permission; Photo by Herman Hooyschuur.

6 thoughts on “Stereo versus monocular vision through Anthony’s eyes”

  1. Excellent article, Ive had alternating vision with exotropia, had two ops, Im 24 and keen to do some vision therapy and see what happens, i wanna tune them eyes up, just to improve my focusing so I can actually focuse and bring real meaning to that and read those sports illustrated mags with the stereo glasses,yea, Thanks.

  2. I really enjoyed this article because I have never seen the world
    with true depth perception and sometimes I wonder what it is like.
    Yet, it’s hard for someone who always sees 3D to describe the difference. Sometimes I ask a friend to describe their 3D vision and they explain how things “pop” and they
    lament about the quality I am missing out on. I find this concept
    intriguing. I can’t miss stereoscopic vision because it’s something
    I’ve never experienced…so my vision can not seem a lower quality to
    me. It’s really hard to miss out on something you haven’t experienced.

    As the author pointed out though, it is possible to have a sense of
    depth through shading and shadows.

    Thanks for the interesting insight!

  3. Finding a family. well I have suffered for 10 years,You see I have work as an esthetician, and I am formerly a Respiratory Therapist, I have enjoyed being of service. I am also a certified massage therapist but the here the unfortunate truth with crossed eyes it is not possible to move foward I have not worked for 8 months and even applying in health food store and being hired was not a Plus.I have worked in many areas with much success,I sure my confidence plays a part but in todays world it is easy to see how your judged.Thank you

  4. Hi, Today is the first time I ever considered checking out the net for my monocular vision troubles. I am 56 yrs.

    As a child, my problem was always refered to as monocular vision, and that was in New York. Just out of college, my then fiancee’ got a good job in Florida, just a few months before we were married. We married and moved to Florida. Here in Florida I am told that I have two lazy eyes that I don’t always use together. Most of the time, I use one eye at a time, and I have no lateral depth perception at all.

    I know to force myself to see, one at a time, in both sides of the vision testing machines. At night before I go to sleep, or when I’m sick and don’t feel like doing much, I hold a finger up between two specific points, and by conciously forcing vision back and forth from one eye to the other, try to center my finger so that it appears to be first on one point and then on the other!

    My biggest trouble with my vision has always been my very slow reading. When I am reading, at the start of a sentence, I am using my left eye, as soon as it gets to the center of the page (no matter the width of the sentence!!) my left eye takes over until the end of the line. At the beginning of the next line, my left eye once again takes over! This caused me to lose my place very easily, and exhausted my eyes very rapidly! In my early 30’s, I began using a bookmark to keep my reading place, and to ease the strain on my eyes. (I was not permitted to do this during my school years through High School.) Even with this aid my reading speed has not improved.

    I would love to read how others deal with slow reading problems. Please visit my at myspace. If you are there too, I’d love to have you as friends there.


  5. What is up with you guys? My alternating monovision means I couldn’t catch or hit a ball to save my life, but I can drive, I was reading at the age of three, and I can shoot, bowl and play darts better than anyone else!

  6. Thanks for your comment, Rhoda. Most of us with strabismus suffer some of the common problems related to strabismus. Usually, though, we have our own unique combination of those problems, some more difficult than others, and some less difficult. It is important for all of us to find the things we can do well, as you have done, and focus on those.

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