The human eye is an amazing work of nature. It is a combination of muscles and lenses working together to send messages to the brain that come back with perceived images. Peripheral vision is just one part of the overall ability to see, and there are some pretty neat things about this area of eyesight.
Did You Know?
Scientifically speaking, peripheral vision is that element of overall vision which occurs outside the center of the gaze. When you speak of seeing something “out of the corner of my eye,” you are referring to peripheral vision. There are some facts about peripheral vision that are not commonly known and pretty cool:
- Athletes undergo sports vision training that includes improving peripheral vision. Very few people are born with perfect sight, and peripheral vision is important. Athletes are trained to be aware of their periphery and notice actions that are not occurring directly in front of them.
- Non-athletes can also improve referral awareness with eye exercises.
- Peripheral vision is a safety issue. It allows us to see objects coming from the side, helping to prevent side impact crashes, and avoid that ball coming (literally) out of left field.
- Peripheral vision allows us to see better at night.
- The peripheral vision of a horse is better than that of a human being. However, because the horse’s eyes point to the sides, there is a blind spot of vision right ahead of their noses.
- Peripheral vision is practically all in black and white, and has a very low resolution. You don’t really notice the difference because the motion of the eye will compensate.
- Peripheral vision can help with speed reading. Most people read with their central focus, and that prevents them from seeing up to 50% of the words in the text.
Importance of Peripheral Vision
Because we are always looking forward, people are going to assume that central vision is the most important part of sight. That isn’t true. Researchers at Kansas State University uncovered some very interesting facts about peripheral vision. It plays a major role in sight.
Peripheral vision makes it easy to take in an entire scene. Central vision is not nearly essential for the overall picture. You can actually determine the identity with peripheral sight.
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Safety on the Road
The value of peripheral vision becomes very apparent when driving a car. Peripheral vision means that we do not have to move our heads in order to see something; many animals do not have that luxury. We are able to look out the front window and also use the side mirrors while still keeping our concentration on the road ahead. Using peripheral vision at a crossroads has been able to prevent numerous accidents.
The ability to see better at night due to peripheral vision cannot be understated. We are able to focus in very dim light, and still see things on either side without having to physically turn our heads. This allows for better response in diminished light, and allows us to drive more safely and properly.
The reaction time that protects us from car accidents is also noticeable in self-defense. Martial arts instructors will point out how peripheral vision allows a person to better defend themselves from unexpected attacks. Fists that come in at an angle can be very easily blocked while still maintaining concentration on the attacker. An individual is also able to pivot to a different angle, avoiding a second assault.
Video Games and Peripheral Vision
One of the biggest forms of entertainment happens to be video games, which some people claim to be a waste of time. Actually, those video games can be excellent vision exercises.
In order to be an expert in video games, you have to have good peripheral vision. Central vision is not always going to be of help because objects come from the side of the screen. After a while, peripheral vision in games becomes better because it is constantly being used. It makes what some people believe to be a lazy man’s occupation something that will improve vision.
Sports Performance Improved with Better Peripheral Vision
It was mentioned earlier how athletes try to develop better peripheral vision. There are a number of sports where there is a lot of activity happening almost simultaneously. Basketball is one particular sport where keeping your eye on the ball may require peripheral vision. Golf makes use of peripheral vision for the wide view as well as various slants on the green. Soccer is another sport that uses peripheral vision, and its importance is noted by many soccer coaches.
Brazil was a pioneer in using peripheral vision training for soccer. This type of vision is important for not only knowing where the ball is, but in passing the ball as well. A player can use peripheral vision to spot an advantageous point without telegraphing that message to an opponent. The pass can then be done effortlessly without ever turning the head.
Peripheral Vision can be used in Meditation
It is pretty normal to close your eyes when meditating. But, you can meditate with eyes wide open and use peripheral vision to do it. A form of Hawaiian meditation, known as hakalau, makes use of peripheral vision.
The reason is that peripheral vision can be used to relax. In coordination with deep breathing, a person will concentrate vision on the sides. It is known to relax the visual system.
Peripheral vision is important for so many reasons, and an individual should appreciate that the uses range from safety to recreation. Video games and sports are made more interesting and frankly a lot more fun because of peripheral vision. Developing peripheral vision can also help in the effort to relax the body. When you think about it, is amazing how often we use peripheral vision without even being aware of it.