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University College London study finds significant differences in people's peripheral vision

by , 09 May 2017
University College London study finds significant differences in people's peripheral vision
Your peripheral vision is your ability to see things that aren't in the centre field of your vision. If, for example, you struggle catching a ball that comes in from your left or find that you're better spotting things on your right, a bad spot in your peripheral vision may be the reason why!

If you think you may have a bad spot in your peripheral vision, you may be wondering if everyone's peripheral vision is more or less the same. According to a recent small study the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that was conducted by University College London researchers, it's not. For the full scoop, keep reading.

Small study confirms that not everyone’s peripheral vision is the same

To reach their findings, researchers gave a group of 12 study subjects a series of perception tests over a few years. They used a test focusing on a point in the centre of the screen while they showed images of clocks in different parts of the visual field – either a clock on its own, or with two other clocks next to it.
 
The team found that subjects found it more difficult to tell time on the central clock when the other clocks were closer. They said this is known as “visual crowding”. They also noted that overall, subjects were worse at spotting objects in crowded environments when the objects were below eye level – however, there was significant variation between the individuals.

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“If you’re looking for your keys, then this profile will affect your ability to find them. For example, if your keys are on a table to the left of where you're focusing, the presence of books and papers on the table may stop you spotting the keys,” explained study lead author John Greenwood, from University College London in England.
 
“Someone with strong left-sided vision could spot the keys even if they’re right next to the book, whereas someone else might not notice the keys unless they're a foot away from the book. There is substantial variation between different people,” added Greenwood.
 

Researchers explain that everyone has their own regions of poor and good vision

“Everyone has their own pattern of sensitivity, with islands of poor vision and other regions of good vision,” confirmed Greenwood, adding that peripheral vision varies could be very helpful when driving.
 
“If you’re driving a truck with a high cabin and looking straight ahead, you’re less likely to notice pedestrians or cyclists at street level in your peripheral vision than if you were lower down and looking to the left and right,” explained Greenwood.
 
“A visually cluttered environment like a busy city road makes it even more difficult. As well as considering the physical blind spots on vehicles, we should remember that the people behind the wheel will also have different areas where their peripheral vision is better or worse,” he concluded.
 
If you’re concerned about your peripheral vision, you should book an appointment with an optometrist.

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