What does it mean when one of my eyes is suppressed? And how does that impact vision?
Suppression is the act of one of the eye’s shutting down visual input being sent to the brain. This can happen intermittently or be constant. Suppression could also be isolated to one eye or alternate between both. Usually this happens when binocular vision cannot be achieved so in order to compensate an eye would suppress the visual information.
It can occur for a multitude of specific reasons but to keep it simple it happens when our binocular system engages but can’t achieve fusion. Fusion is when both of our eyes are acting in concert and take two separate images they’re perceiving and form them into one image in our minds. When fusion can’t be achieved we will end up with diplopia, or seeing two separate images at once. As you could imagine this isn’t what someone would like to experience all the time. Our minds, being powerful tools, figure a way around this in order to reduce the comfort one would experience with double vision. The mind effectively turns off the incoming data from one of the eyes, usually the weaker one, just like a light switch. Now the mind is only taking in the sensory information from one eye, making for one distinct picture in our mind. Usually, the lack of fusion is ascribed to the system being brought to and exceeding its breaking point or the range when it cannot achieve binocularity.
This is indeed a good question. If someone is to experience suppression, is it isolated to one eye? The answer, like most things medically related, has a few components to the answer. The answer varies depending on what specific person it’s affecting. Most people experience suppression within a certain binocular range where the demand exceeds what they are able to do. If suppression occurs in this range a person might use their stronger eye over the weaker one. Suppression can be constant or intermittent once a person is in that range meaning once they hit that point the suppression won’t subside until the demand is decreased or, like our light switch metaphor, it will flicker on and off resulting in intermittent suppression. Another feature of suppression is that it can be alternating which means that a person will switch between what eye is relaying information and what eye is not. For the most part, people aren’t aware of the alternation as well as the occurrence of suppression in general.
We touched on a few symptoms earlier but we’ll go over them in detail now. The list of symptoms includes but is not limited to:
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it might be worth a look during an advanced vision exam. At this is one of the things we check for throughout a comprehensive vision exam. In the event that suppression is diagnosed we would be able to treat it through vision therapy.