Binocular vision is vision in which both eyes are used together. Such binocular vision is usually accompanied by singleness of vision or binocular fusion, in which a single image is seen despite each eye having its own image of any object.

Other phenomena of binocular vision include eye dominance, anisometropia, and binocular retinal rivalry. Stereopsis is the impression of depth that is perceived when a scene is viewed with both eyes by someone with normal binocular vision.

Binocular viewing of a scene creates two slightly different images of the scene in the two eyes due to the eyes' different positions on the head. These differences, referred to as binocular disparity, provide information that the brain can use to calculate depth in the visual scene, providing a major means of depth perception.

The term stereopsis is often used as short hand for 'binocular vision', 'binocular depth perception' or 'stereoscopic depth perception', though strictly speaking, the impression of depth associated with stereopsis can also be obtained under other conditions, such as when an observer views a scene with only one eye while moving.

Importantly, stereopsis is not usually present when viewing a scene with one eye, when viewing a picture of a scene with both eyes, or when someone with abnormal binocular vision (strabismus) views a scene with both eyes. This is despite the fact that in all these three cases humans can still perceive depth relations.


The word binocular comes from two Latin roots, bini for double, and oculus for eye.

Having two eyes has advantages:

  • A spare eye in case one is damaged        
  • A wider field of view. For example, humans have a maximum horizontal field of view of approximately 200 degrees with two eyes, approximately 120 degrees of which makes up the binocular field of view (seen by both eyes) flanked by two uniocular fields (seen by only one eye) of approximately 40 degrees
  • It gives binocular summation in which the ability to detect faint objects is enhanced
  • It can give stereopsis in which binocular disparity (or parallax) provided by the two eyes' different positions on the head give precise depth perception