Improving Peripheral Vision Awareness

The eye's fovea is a small spot near the retina's center filled with a high concen-
tration of photoreceptors that allows the focal point of your vision to guide visual
information to the conscious thinking part of your brain; but the fovea receives only a
small part of the visual information entering the eye.
The parafovea is an area that surrounds the fovea and can take in much more. The
parafoveal cells are connected to other areas of the brain that govern reflexive or
"instinctive" responses. To illustrate this, have a partner hold a dollar bill by its end
with his thumb and forefinger. Place your thumb and forefinger in about the middle
of the dollar bill in an open, ready position. When your friend lets the dollar bill go
without warning, close your thumb and forefinger upon it as quickly as possible.
Was it too fast for you? Now do the same experiment, but this time don't look at the
dollar bill with your focal vision. Look at it by projecting your conscious awareness
into your peripheral vision. Did you catch it this time? Were your reflexes better?
Most of the visual information that hits the parafovea is subliminal information
(beyond the conscious threshold), but it doesn't always have to be that way. As an
exercise, focus your eyes on a single point on the wall. Now without looking away,
allow your conscious awareness to wander away from the focal point of your vision
and become aware of what is to the left of your focal point by about two feet. Now
rotate your conscious awareness above your focal point; then to the right; then to the
bottom. Now let it wander freely to the maximum in all directions. Next, sweep
your conscious awareness in a circular, spiral motion around and into your focal
point and then back out to the extremes again. Interesting, isn't it? Your parafoveal
cells have now been put to conscious use. (Those people that are cross-eyed do this
every day as a matter of necessity.)
Choose another point in the room and again fixate your gaze toward a certain spot
and hold it there. Identify the furniture, various objects large and small, and the
different colors that are surrounding your focal point. How did you do? Spatial
relationships are better understood by the right brain, so items to the left of your focal
point will probably be easier to discern at first, but with practice, both sides will
improve. Now hold both your index fingers out in front of you. Move your right
hand in an arcing motion to the left while moving your left hand to the right. Let your
focal vision follow one finger while your conscious awareness follows the other
finger. Reverse it. Which direction was easier? Now fix your conscious awareness
at a point in your peripheral vision while rolling the focal point of your vision around it in a spiral.


Have a friend make up a sheet of paper and put a small circle in the center of it.
Then scatter plain block letters and numbers at varying distances from that point. See
how many and at what distance you can discern them. In all cases, stretch the
discerning ability of your peripheral vision to its limit. Take a shuffled deck of cards
and while fixating your focal gaze at a point on the wall, hold each card one by one at
some point in your peripheral field of vision. Identify each card and stretch the
discerning ability of your peripheral vision to its limit. By mastering these different
exercises, you'll eventually find it difficult to miss anything that's within your entire
visual view.
Since training your peripheral vision to consciously apprehend information
directly involves the parafovea, your speed reading skills will greatly improve as
well. Since dyslexics identify letters in their peripheral vision better than those not
suffering from dyslexia, teaching them speed reading methods (above 2,000 wpm) of
instruction (right brain approach) would be far more appropriate than the word by
word, left brain approach.