September 4, 2020

Why Does One Eye See Better Than the Other?


Read the full NZ Herald article here

Any eye doctor can tell you that it’s common to hear from people that one eye seems to see better than the other. Is this normal, or a symptom of a wider problem? If you do see better out of one eye, should you seek medical help? Read on to find out more.

Is it normal to see better out of one eye?

This can be a tricky question. The simple answer is yes, it’s relatively normal. In fact, both eyes having the exact same visual acuity is probably a little unusual. It’s entirely possible, for example, to be short-sighted in one eye, and long-sighted in the other. 

It’s important to note, however, that when most people ask this question, they’re not thinking about the precise prescription of the eye. More often than not, they mean they’re experiencing a distinct visual difference between the eyes—perhaps one has more trouble focusing, or seems to see ‘darker’ than the other. This sort of imbalance can be caused by a range of issues. While these problems are mostly benign, it’s still worth seeing an eye doctor for a check-up, as any lack of vision isn’t normal. 

What can cause vision imbalances between the eyes?

If you have a very noticeable difference between each eye’s ability to focus, you’re most likely to have developed amblyopia. Amblyopia is an eye condition that develops during childhood, and it occurs if one eye doesn’t develop the way it should. It’s quite common, and is often commonly called a ‘lazy’ eye, because the brain starts to rely more on the visual data coming from the stronger eye.

Most treatment options for amblyopia involve corrective lenses, and it’s widely thought that it can only be corrected in childhood. However, there are some proponents of vision therapy who purport that the eye can be trained to see properly again, no matter your age. 

Amblyopia is often mixed up with another eye condition called strabismus, where one eye is not aligned with the other. We call this binocular vision. Those with strabismus can have double-vision caused by the eyes focusing on separate locations, but this is a different problem altogether from amblyopia, even though many people erroneously refer to both as having a ‘lazy’ eye.

What if my vision is darker in one eye?

Differences in light or colour detection between the eyes can be symptoms of a much more serious problem. The ability to process colour accurately is often affected by a whole range of visual health issues, including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, or even cataracts. Many of these are easy to treat with modern procedures, but it’s worth getting a check-up if you’re having issues with dim vision or muted colours in a single eye.

When an eye is working correctly, light entering the eye is refracted into the retina, which then communicates with the optic nerve, delivering visual information to the brain. In rare cases, issues with vision in one eye can be caused by a problem with the optic nerve, which may be receiving restricted blood flow, or may be developing optic neuritis. 


Are you having trouble seeing with one or both of your eyes?

It’s possible for one of your eyes to see better than the other with no impact on your vision, but if you’re experiencing trouble seeing, even if only in one eye, contact an eye doctor. To find out more, book an appointment with the experts here at Re:Vision today.

Related articles


More articles

Re:Vision Laser & Cataract is certified by the DAA Group Ltd, our personalised quality of patient care meets regulatory standards. But we quietly and confidently know that our care exceeds our patients expectations, see for yourself on Google Reviews


Phone 09 222 2020
Freephone 0800 55 20 20
Fax 09 222 2021


Re:Vision Laser & Cataract
6c Pacific Rise
Mt Wellington
Auckland 1060

clinic hours


We accept payment by:

Eftpos, Visa, Mastercard are all accepted. Unfortunately we do not take American Express. We welcome payment by internet banking. Please include your name and invoice number at time of payment.
Bank details: ASB 12-3110-0101965-00