Understanding Depth Perception

Diving at night in the rain

Have you ever been on the sports field and not been able to fully judge how far away your teammate is? Or have you ever felt nervous while driving your car home because it seems like that car is really far away, but it’s actually right in front of you? If either of these situations seem familiar to you, then you might be experiencing common problems with what is called depth perception. 

What is depth perception?

Depth perception is when you can see in three dimensions and also have the ability to judge how far away people or objects are from you. It’s also referred to as stereopsis. Depth perception allows you to accurately guess the distance between you and something (or someone) else. In order to have depth perception, you need to have binocular vision, which means you have vision in both of your eyes. Those with monocular vision (vision only in one eye) lack strong eye depth perception.

Many people ask how does depth perception work? Depth perception works by your two eyes viewing different images and your brain bringing them together to form one single image. This process is referred to as convergence. This explains why those with vision in only one eye do not have great depth perception. An example of depth perception in normal life would be if someone is walking towards you, a person with accurate depth perception is able to tell when the person is about five feet away from them. However, someone with lacking depth perception is not able to accurately perceive how far away the person is.

How to test depth perception?

Some people suffer from depth perception issues for years without knowing. Many people don’t know if they have good depth perception or how to check depth perception. A visual depth perception test can seem complicated at first, but in fact, it is actually quite simple. Below you can find an easy, convenient way to test your depth perception online.

Green dot
  1. Hold your finger in front of the depth perception eye test circle on the screen.
  2. Focus your gaze primarily on the circle and you should see two images of your finger on either side of the circle. Note: It might be slightly transparent or blurry, but that’s to be expected. If you see the two fingers, it’s a sign of strong depth perception. 
  3. Switch your focus from the dot to your finger. This should result in the two images merging into one while, simultaneously, the circle becomes two pieces.

It may signal poor depth perception if any of these occur during the test:

  • Your finger is larger on one side than on the other
  • You see your finger better on one side
  • You only see one reflection of your finger, not two
  • When you close one eye at a time and your finger starts in the center of the circle, but moves far to one side when you open the other eye

It’s important to note that this depth perception test online may be easy for some and difficult for others, so don’t get frustrated if you don’t get the desired results with the depth perception eye test circles. As you can probably guess, these online depth perception tests aren’t 100% accurate, but if you notice anything out of the ordinary it’s best to see a doctor. The best depth perception eye test is done by your eye doctor, so if you have concerns make an appointment to discuss your concerns and take a vision depth perception test.

What causes depth perception problems?

There is no one answer, but in fact several conditions that can contribute to poor depth perception:

  • Strabismus – This is a condition where both of the eyes cannot be aligned simultaneously. One or both eyes may turn outwards, inwards, downwards, or upwards. This is commonly referred to as being cross-eyed.
  • Blurred vision This is when one’s vision is not as sharp as normal and it makes it incredibly difficult to spot detail.
  • Amblyopia – This is a condition where one eye cannot focus as well as the other and is often called a “lazy eye.”
  • Eye trauma – Eye trauma is anything that disturbs or harms the eye. This prevents the eye or eyes from working as well as they should and can harm one’s vision.

These common conditions can all contribute to depth perception problems, or sometimes even a total lack of depth perception. People often wonder what does no depth perception look like?

It can be hard to imagine how having no depth perception would affect daily life. A lack of depth perception can make sports, driving, and other everyday activities very challenging. Some studies suggest that in children, it can limit their ability to learn properly. Here’s one depth perception example: picture this, you go up to kick a soccer ball but completely miss because you can’t sense how far away you are from the ball. This could happen because your faulty depth perception told you the ball was one place while it was actually placed a few inches or a foot away from where you thought.

If you feel you have any of these conditions or your depth perception is off, make sure to consult your eye doctor right away. Depth perception can sometimes be connected to a larger issue, so if you struggle with depth perception or feel you may suffer from one of the more serious conditions, it’s always best to look into it as soon as possible.

Woman wearing glasses holding her phone next to a man wearing glasses looking at his iPad

How to improve depth perception?

If you feel like you need to take steps to improve your depth perception, we recommend discussing options with your doctor and finding what works best for you and your health. Many conditions that lead to poor depth perception can be improved by wearing prescription glasses or depth prescription glasses.

It’s really easy to purchase prescription glasses online like the ones offered at Felix Gray. They offer a variety of colors and frames (including Low Bridge Fit) available in non-prescription, prescription, and reading glasses styles. They are also available in kids’s glasses for children who struggle with depth perception.  Feel free to explore the site to find the best pair for you. If you need any help, our Customer Experience Team is there to help through email, chat, phone, or Facebook messenger. 

Additionally, some Felix Gray customers have reported that because all glasses have an Anti-Reflective coating that reduces 99% of glare, they can also be useful for night driving. This is particularly helpful because depth perception can severely affect some people’s ability to drive. If your depth perception cannot be altered through prescription lenses, there are also some vision therapies and exercises you can try. For example, your doctor may recommend a technique called “patching” where the stronger eye is patched for a certain amount of time to strengthen the weaker eye. Overall, there are multiple treatment plans available to help if you struggle with depth perception issues.