Do Eyes "Compensate?"

I hear this all the time, from patients and colleagues alike. People tell me that one of their eyes is blurry, so the other one "compensates". Does it? I think most of the time the eye that they told me is "compensating" is just seeing clearly while the other one is not. There is no real compensation going on. Since a person cannot focus (accommodate) one eye without the exact same amount of focusing for the other eye (since it's all controlled by one nerve), I just don't see how any eye can comensate for the other eye. If a pallet that is heavier on one side than the other gets lifted by a forklift, is one fork "compensating" for the other? Parents of amblyopes are asking me this all the time. "Since one eye is lazy, the other one compensates, right?" Er, no. The lazy eye just sees bad. The non lazy eye doesn't. That's it. The non-lazy eye is not somehow helping the lazy eye see better...if it were, we wouldn't need patching regimens that force the patient to use the lazy eye. There is no eye/vision "compensation". I just don't personally believe that exists.


  1. How about this: I have a fairly different prescription in my two eyes. My left eye is -8.25 and my right -4.00. When I wear glasses, my right eye is dominant, but when I wear glasses, it's the left.
    It's probably not "compensation" in the sense that the vision in the eye is adjusting somehow, but I feel like when I wear glasses my naturally non-dominant eye becomes dominant due to the size difference of the image (not sure what the technical term is for that).

  2. IDK. I have a very dominant left eye and feel it does most of the work as the right one can only see for distance. Near up, it can't read AT ALL, total blur. I don't even wear glasses to read as the left eye still sees small text fine even though I am in my mid-50's. An Ophthalmologist told me about 12 years ago that I should have been a jeweler with the close-up vision I had at the time (sadly now gone and more like standard near vision in the “dominant left eye). When I do the dominance check, it also points out my left eye as dominant. Right one is only good, not great for distance. When I was a kid, it the right eye tended to drift off slightly to the side when someone was taking a photograph. I could feel it happen. Must have always been weaker. DW


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