I know it might be hard to believe, but some days I’m glad I’m not a pirate.
For the last couple weeks, I’ve been discussing the role of your dominant and recessive eye , and I’ve also learned a lot from the golf pros, shooters, tennis players and neurosurgeons who have e-mailed me with data and advice.
If you’re just joining us, here’s the story in a nutshell (the unshelled entry is available here): You have a dominant hand and a dominant eye. If they are both on the same side of your body, it’s easier to learn to saw and do a lot of other things requiring hand-eye coordination. If your dominant eye is on the other side of your body than your dominant hand, then it can be a struggle.
So how do you determine if you have this problem or not? Several people have suggested tests, including injecting an ultra-short-acting barbiturate into the carotid artery and then examining the person to see if he or she can talk or becomes aphasic. The side resulting in aphasia is the dominant hemisphere.
Now I love my job, but I have my limits.
So let’s try this second test, which seems to work reliably. Hold your hands out at arm’s length and use them to frame a small object in the distance. Keep both your eyes open. What you see might look like this.
Now shut one eye. If the object stays in the frame, then the open eye is your dominant eye. If the object moves, the open eye is your recessive eye. Here’s what the same scene looks like with my recessive eye (Note: Because the camera has only one eye, this is a re-enactment. No plow planes were harmed or moved during this re-enactment).
So what do you do if you have cross-dominance (you are left-handed but right-eye dominant, for example)? One common suggestion seems to be the simple solution: Shut the offending eye (the right eye in this example) and do the work. Or get a pirate patch and cover the dominant ocular organ.
Well the retired neurological surgeon pointed out that you sacrifice your depth perception when you do this. Is this worth the trade-off? I wanted to know.
So I bought a pirate patch and proceeded to cut some lines. For the record, I am right-handed and right-eye dominant. So first I cut a line with both eyes open. I tend to track a tiny tad right, and that’s exactly what I did in the example above.
Then I covered my left eye. This was to test what it was like to saw without depth perception. It was more difficult, but I managed to stay on line pretty much. But I didn’t much like it.
Then I covered my right eye. This was to test what it was like to saw if I were cross-dominant (and had no depth perception). It was like sawing dovetails at 3 a.m. at a frat party. I could not cut a straight line. I tried several times, but I wandered and wandered and wondered if I was going to be pulled over by the authorities.
So I don’t know if the eye patch is the answer. I do know, however, what I am going to be for Halloween this year.
– Christopher Schwarz
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