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What is Central Vision?

By Jessica Reed
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Central vision describes a person's field of vision when he is looking straight ahead. The central vision is the most commonly used part of human vision. It allows people to read, see objects in front of them, and perform other daily tasks and routines. The central vision picks out details of objects, providing the brain with feedback and creating a crisp, clear picture in front of the viewer's eyes. It is also responsible for interpreting colors and shapes of the objects being viewed.

For a person's central vision to work, the human eye must have a properly functioning part called the macula. The macula is located inside the retina of each eye and resembles a yellow oval. The macula includes tightly packed cones, the cells responsible for proper viewing of colors and details. The cones are sensitive to the light taken in by a person's eyes, and the cones inside the macula work to produce the fine details needed for clear vision and performing tasks such as reading.

Peripheral vision is the second type of vision, and includes the range of vision referred to when a person is, as it is commonly described, seeing something out of the corner of his eye. Both types of vision are important for clear sight, but central vision is more important than peripheral vision for day-to-day functioning. If the macula is damaged, the resulting problems and loss of vision are often extreme, whereas damage that affects only peripheral vision is often less severe.

If the macula becomes damaged, the person may only be able to see from his peripheral vision. This creates a permanent blind spot in the middle of the field. When the macula is damaged it may begin to break down over time, leading to blindness. It can happen to only one eye or occur in both eyes. Those who smoke and who spend a lot of time outdoors without proper eye protection are at a higher risk of developing macular degeneration, along with those who are elderly.

A person can protect his eyes by wearing proper sunglasses outdoors, wearing prescription or reading glasses if necessary, and making doctor's appointments for regular eye exams. If he ever notices odd phenomenon, such as flashing lights or blurry vision, it is important to talk to an eye doctor immediately. Keeping in good physical shape is also important, not only for healthy eyes but a healthy body overall.

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Discussion Comments
By PinkLady4 — On Jun 15, 2011

Most eye doctors and people afflicted with macular degeneration think that there is not hope for any vision returning.

I have heard of one clinic that claims that they have a method to return at least some people suffering from central vision difficulty.

By Windchime — On Jun 13, 2011

@Penzance356 - I had no idea that young people could have those kind of vision problems. I thought it was something senior folk, like my grandmother get.

She's been living with central vision loss for a good while, but it came on slowly and she had time to adjust. We also got a lot of good advice from a support group on how to make her daily life easier.

We made her house safer to prevent falls and burns by making the lighting better, changing her rugs for fitted carpets and building sturdy fencing around the deck. My mother helped fix the kitchen up with a color coding system for stove controls and food items.

I would never have thought of these things without help, so my advice for anyone in a similar position is to make the most of all the support that's out there.

By Penzance356 — On Jun 13, 2011

When my cousin was in grade school he complained about a loss of central vision, which was initially put down to eye strain. It turned out he had something called Stargardt’s Disease, which affects about 1 in 20,000 kids.

Thankfully he won't go completely blind but this is quite a hard thing for him to live with. He has to wear special glasses, is restricted in sports and physical activities and for a while had phantom visions.

By Bertie68 — On Jun 13, 2011

An uncle of mine has experienced the gradual loss of his central vision. He refers to it as macular degeneration. He gave up his driver's license several years ago. Now, is all he has is some peripheral vision. He stays in most of the time unless my aunt is right there with him.

When he was young, his distance vision was very bad. I think that he was nearly blind in one eye.

I would recommend that everyone have an eye exam once a year.

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