What is Binocular Vision?

Every now and then, we get asked questions from our readers about topics they’ll like to know more about, especially as it relates to binoculars. Recently, we’ve seen a trend in this that indicates a lot of you would like us to shed more light on what binocular vision is.

Grab some popcorn, hell you don’t even need popcorn as this won’t take much time.

For the next few minutes, we’ll deconstruct the complexities behind the idea of a binocular vision, what the advantages of binocular vision are, and whether it’s, in fact, a good or bad thing to have as a human. Leggo!

 

Definition of Binocular vision

Binocular vision is simply a kind of vision that involves the use of both eyes. It is a vision in which both eyes are simultaneously used to produce a single image.

Perhaps you still don’t get it. So, we’ll break it even further.

There are two things I want you to know before we proceed;

  • First, everything we see is a result of signals sent from our eyes to our brain. And;
  • Secondly, the word ‘binocular’ was coined from two Latin root words, bini for double, and oculus for eye.

 

That said, signals from both eyes are sent to the brain simultaneously.

And usually, these signals from both eyes carry information with slight differences. So, when you have perfect binocular vision, the brain can efficiently process these signals from both eyes and use the differences therein to judge distances between objects, coordinate eye movements, and paint this picture of a single more accurate image.

 

How does binocular vision work?

We’ll discuss how this works in both humans and binoculars. (Check this video)

Along with the question of what is binocular vision, some of you readers have also asked to know if humans have binocular vision, whether the binocular vision is bad, and whether it can actually be corrected. Hopefully, this will help most of you get answers to these questions.

What is Binocular Vision

Binocular vision in humans

Humans are binocular beings, so we have binocular vision.

Both of our eyes are positioned in the front, so both eyes usually have a very similar view of an image. Again, both eyes’ fields of view overlap. While the field of view with one eye is about 130 degrees, using both eyes can bring this to as much as 180 degrees.

The center of the eyes’ fields of view is where the highest overlap occurs.

Coincidentally, this center of the field is where the information is most detailed. And while just one eye can detect information in this center field, the combined data from both eyes is required for binocular processing through the visual pathway for a single, more coordinated image.

 

Binocular vision in binoculars

It’s pretty obvious the binocular vision also comes into play in binoculars.

Whether you choose to call it field glasses or binoculars, these devices are essentially based on the principle of two telescopes that are mounted side-by-side. These lenses are then aligned to point in thesame direction, supporting the idea of binocular vision so viewers can see through it with both eyes. Simple, easy!

Binoculars are designed to allow the use of both eyes in a natural way. They also generate images or visions with an upright view with correct left-to-right orientation. Compared to single telescopes, binoculars are more comfortable to use and provide better depth perception as well.

 

What is the advantage of binocular vision?

Both monocular and binocular visions have their advantages. However, this is not about whether one is better than the other because, in all honesty, this is subjective.

Take, for instance, the case of prey animals like rabbits, small birds, deer, etc.

These animals have a monocular vision with their eyes located on either side of their heads. For them, this is advantageous as they have a larger field of view that helps them spot predators more easily. A pigeon, for instance, has a field of vision of 340 degrees.

 

What about the advantage of binocular vision?

Well, humans and many other predators with a binocular vision stand to benefit from a slew of advantages as well. These range from the benefit of better depth perception that allows for better judgment of distance and stereopsis and the ability to see images in three dimensions, 3D.

Without binocular vision, simple things like parking a car, catching a baseball, walking, or running, will become a little more challenging. This is why people suffering from an impairment of their binocular vision often have problems arising from their lack of proper ability to orient themselves with respect to their environment.

 

The key benefit of binocular vision

Among all of these, the most critical benefit of binocular vision is depth perception.

It is because of binocular vision that the brain can process distance, depth, and relationships between objects. Remember, we mentioned earlier that each eye carries and transmits slightly different information to the brain. The brain is able to process the differences between these pieces of information to determine depth and distance accurately. Because of this, we get to be able to distinguish the relationship between different objects in our field of view and see three-dimensional images easily.

 

Conclusion

Binocular vision is a simple yet critical phenomenon.

This is how the brain helps to converge information from both eyes into a single accurate image. It’s the basis of how the human eyes see an image and process the relationship between objects, using the information provided by both eyes. It’s also a core part of how we can watch birds, stars, horse races, and many of the other beautiful sights of nature with a binocular.

We recently published a piece on how a binocular works. You might also check that out to learn more about how binocular single vision works in these ingenious optical instruments.

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