Cross eye dominance refers to having opposite hand-eye domination. Most commonly, it means being right handed but being left-eye dominant. Cross dominance can be a huge factor in sports performance, especially in activities such as archery and shooting where cross dominance can cause the aim to be pulled toward the dominant eye. Similarly in tennis, when the player is forced to cross his mid line, hand-eye coordination can be compromised; and a golfer is going to miss his putt if the shot is lined up with the non-dominant eye.
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Determining Your Dominant Eye
The easiest way to determine which eye is dominant is to make a circle with your hand by touching your thumb to your index finger. Pick a target, such as a doorknob across the room. Center the doorknob in the circle made by your hand and close your right eye. Look for displacement of the target outside of the circle. Repeat the maneuver with your left eye closed. Your dominant eye is the eye that is open when the doorknob is most centered in the circle.
Cross Dominance Training through Sports Vision
Sports vision is a highly specialized area of optometry that can help athletes with cross dominance problems. The basis of this training is to create "ambidexterity," or being able to use both eyes and both sides of the body equally. Through practice, the non-dominant eye can be trained to work more efficiently in sport specific tasks. Find a sports vision specialist in your area by going to www.aoa.org. and type your zip code into the doctor locator link.
Cross Dominance Training through Vision Therapy
Under an optometrist's supervision, fundamental visual skills can be improved through vision therapy or VT. The aim of VT is to improve visual comfort, ease and efficiency by using therapeutic lenses, prisms, filters, occluders, patches, electronic targets and balance boards. One VT training method is working with a Bernell Rotator using visual motor integration to place an object on a moving target. The idea of the exercise is to place a peg in a target spot in the rotator with your dominant eye covered, thus forcing your non-dominant eye to strengthen. The test is repeated until you can perform the test equally with the non-dominant and dominant eye.
Train Your Cross Dominance at Home
The swinging ball exercise can be performed at home by attaching a rubber softball to a length of rope and suspending it from a ceiling so it can swing freely. Draw three one to two inch circles on the ball in red, yellow and blue. Section a dowel rod into three parts covering one third in red tape, one third in yellow tape and one third in blue tape. Suspend the ball at eye level, cover your dominant eye and step back 16 inches.Tap the colored section of dowel to the corresponding colored section on the ball.
For monocular acuity improvement, cover the dominant eye and use tweezers drop grains of rice into a small-mouth bottle or jar. Get as many grains of rice in the jar with the non-dominant eye as you can with the dominant eye in a specific time period. For an added challenge, use the non-dominant hand.
The brain is "hard-wired", so the goal of training is not to change eye dominance but to enhance the visual accuracy of the non-dominant eye. Do your visual training exercises during the off-season of your sport. Many sports can be adapted so that the athlete maintains the cross dominant position. In target shooting for example, you put the gun in front of your dominant eye. Close your non-dominant eye, then draw and point at the target. Now open your non-dominant eye. You may have to shoot with the non-dominant eye closed for a while to get used to this position; but it's certainly better than switching the gun to your non-dominant hand.