Monocular Vision: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:01 What Is Monocular Vision?
  • 0:50 Monocular vs. Binocular
  • 1:35 Animals with Monocular Vision
  • 2:02 Advantages & Disadvantages
  • 2:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chevette Alston

Dr. Alston has taught intro psychology, child psychology, and developmental psychology at 2-year and 4-year schools.

This lesson explains monocular vision, or seeing through one eye at a time instead of both eyes at once. Explore the advantages and disadvantages of monocular vision and how animals use it to survive.

What Is Monocular Vision?

Have you ever looked at something while closing one eye then switched which eye you were using? The object seems to shift position a bit, and if you try to touch it, you may have trouble knowing how far to put your hand out. You are trying out monocular vision.

Monocular vision is seeing with only one eye at a time. Seeing with both eyes is binocular vision. Animals with monocular vision can see a lot of area with that one eye - more than we can. This means they have an increased field of view, or area that is visible to the eye. The downside is, that animal will have more trouble figuring out the distance between themselves an object. In other words, it limits their depth perception, or the ability to judge spatial distance from one object to another.

Monocular vs. Binocular

The difference between monocular vision and binocular vision is the location of the eyes. With monocular vision, the eyes are located on the side of the head, and only one eye can take in the visual field presented. With binocular vision, eyes are located in the front of the head, and both eyes are used to take in the visual field.

Monocular vision means that one eye, for the most part, cannot see what the other eye sees. Vision fields don't overlap because the eyes are located on opposite sides of the head. However, binocular vision does overlap because the eyes are so close together. The ability to overlap vision fields using both eyes provides the ability to estimate distances. With monocular vision, distance is often gauged inaccurately.

Animals with Monocular Vision

With the exception of owls, monocular vision is very common for birds. Another animal group with monocular vision is most lizards. Herbivores or prey animals, such as rabbits, goats, cows, deer, commonly have monocular vision. Humans and predators, such as eagles, lions, and tigers, are commonly known for having binocular vision. 'The better to see you with,' as the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood would say.

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