Casey Packer, O.D. of Lone Star Eye Center Austin, TX measures Robert Farago for new glasses (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Casey Packer O.D. of Austin’s Lone Star Eye Center writes:

“In order to accurately visualize a target when shooting you must focus on the front sight of the gun while simultaneously viewing the target. Unfortunately, there is an anatomical flaw called accommodation that disrupts our visual system from doing this naturally. Accommodation is the process where our eyes focus in unison on a near visual target. The focusing muscles are connected between the two eyes. Therefore it is not possible to have one eye affix a near target (in this case the front sight) and a distant target (shooting target) without the use of prescription eyewear. What I’ve done in the pictures you see above is exactly measure the distance from the dominant eye of our shooter (the truth himself, Mr. Farago) to the front sight. Then . . .

Casey Packer, O.D. of Lone Star Eye Center Austin, TX makes the final measurements for Robert Farago's everyday:shooting glasses (courtesy The Truth About Guns)


“I use this distance to determine his prescription at that focal point. This prescription is placed in the dominant eye’s lens while the other lens of the glasses is set at the normal distance prescription. This custom prescription will allow Mr. Farago to effectively focus both targets equally and bypass the accommodation system to improve overall accuracy.

“Not all barrels are the same distance from the eyes so depending on the variety of firearms used I can determine an average prescription to work with your full artillery. A patient using this custom method of eyewear won a national shooting competition shortly after its use in the competition circuit and claimed his accuracy improved by 20-30%.”

$350 later . . . (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

RF here: Wearing a pair of glasses with the close-up lens on the right eye and the far away lens on the left eye is a friggin’ revelation. I tested the system out on a pair of sunglasses and Hallelujah! I was blind but now I SEE! I can see the little gap on either side of the front sight within the rear sight AND the target. I’d say my accuracy improved 50 percent. Then again 50 percent of not much is . . . a lot better.

Some people report headaches when they use this system. Casey reckons that’s because they don’t have enough of a difference between their eyes. As a Jew I’ve been blessed with two crappy eyes of differing crapitude. (Thank you inbreeding.) So this works a treat every day, all day. The only downside: I have to switch to reading glasses or ditch specs entirely for close-up work.

This is no big sacrifice; I’m much more confident with my shooting at all distances, at all times, including possible defensive gun uses. YMMV and finding an eye doctor who’s happy to measure the distance between your dominant eye and the front sight (e.g., Kahr PM9) in your preferred shooting stance might be a little tricky in states like, say, New Jersey. But I can’t recommend this process enough.

[Note: I paid Dr. Casey cash for his services and my glasses. Yeah, it’s that good.]

84 Responses to How to See Your Rear Sight, Your Front Sight and the Target All At the Same Time

    • You still have a dominant eye. Go to a mirror you can stand some distance away from. Straighten your arms in front of you, and overlap your hands so there is a small triangle of space between the webbings of your thumbs. Then look at yourself through that small hole. The eye you see is your dominant eye.

      Just like you have a dominant hand that you manipulate the world through, your brain prefers to take information in through one eye. The other eye confirms information from the dominant one. Your dominant eye is the one you want to be sighting with. Some people are “cross dominant”, having a hand and eye dominant on opposite sides of the body (and extra Corpus Callosum developed to traffic more information between brain hemispheres, along with, if male, a slight leg-up on insight to how women think). If you are right handed and left-eyed, even if both eyes are 20/20, you are not getting the rifle-accuracy you could when shouldering the rifle on the right.

      • “You still have a dominant eye. Go to a mirror you can stand some distance away from. Straighten your arms in front of you, and overlap your hands so there is a small triangle of space between the webbings of your thumbs. Then look at yourself through that small hole. The eye you see is your dominant eye.”

        Dude that shit doesn’t work if you tell the shooter what’s happening. It HAS to be a surprise. You needed tell him what to do, then ask him “what eye did you use to look through the hole?” If they know they’re trying to determine the dominant eye, their decision making can come into play and ruin the results of the experiment.

        • Not really, the results are fairly objective given that the person actually wants accurate results. If you tell about the test and they actively TRY to screw it up there’s no helping them anyway.

        • If you don’t understand what you’re doing your results will probably be 100% accurate. If you know what’s going on, you might want to be right eye dominant… see what I mean? It pollutes the test.

        • Actually it works just fine because if you can only see one eye through that small hole, your brain will automatically position you so that you see through the dominant eye (the one reflected in the mirror). It’s just like picking up something with your non-dominant hand – sure you can do it deliberately, but it feels “wrong”. As peirsonb said, you have to have some weird mental quirk where being dominant-eyed in the other eye would unmake your sense of self in order to lie to yourself for that.

    • Unless you have astigmatism and then the red bleeds like a suck pig.

      I had LASIK about a decade ago, but they couldn’t get the astigmatism. I just got a pair of safety glasses with anti-glare and an astigmatism correction for shooting, and it’s awesome.

      • Yes… the red dot I have on my Mark III pistol looks more like an apostrophe, since I don’t wear prescription shooting glasses and my contacts don’t correct for astigmatism.

        If I squint I can get in back into focus (I guess I’m squeezing my eyeballs back into shape), but that gets tiring after a few seconds.

        Would it affect accuracy at bad guy distance? Probably not… but it is annoying when trying to hit small targets for fun.

    • Try a See All Open Sight, a bit bigger, but better in so many ways than a red dot…. (IMHO) you can see it without glasses if you have farsightedness. Wonderful on a carbine or shotty for the house…..

      http://www.seeallopensight.com/

      I only purchased this sight, I have no other affiliation with the company other than as a satisfied customer.

      • A Chuck Norris commemorative 1911 would cause an earthquake that would separate Texas from the mainland, creating a new island nation in the Gulf and further cause the return of the Mayan empire and expulsion of the caudillos of Mexico.

  1. I guarantee it would give me a headache and depth perseption issues like running into things. I use distance only glasses for shooting rifles with scopes. Forget iron sights on a rifle for these old eyes. Also there is the MicroSight for NM AR rear sights. It works wonders but I still gave up trying to shoot over irons. Pistol irons on an EDC is no problem. I point shoot anyway.

  2. Been there done that. Except I opted for both eyes at front sight distance. Thinking was “what if I need to switch? “.

    Then the eyewear selection began. I decided on wrap around polycarb shield glasses (ESS or OAKLEY) with prescription inserts. How do I say it? I nearly cried. I could see.

    • My prescription is so bad the last time I went in for new glasses they said I’d reached the point where they couldn’t do wrap-around sunglasses.

      I cried.

  3. I’ve been waiting for this story for along time. I assume there had to be opticians with a specialist interest in the shooter. Somewhere. How to locate one local?

    What does the good Dr suggest for actually fixin the ole, and getting worse, eyes vs corrective lens? Any of the various Lasik/laser/etc surgery worthwhile? In particular while firing high power.

    • I just got Lasik done a week ago. Haven’t had the chance to go shooting yet but for every day quality of life type things its an amazing difference! No more dirty lenses, no more worrying about rain, no discomfort associated with contacts. Opening your eyes in the morning to a world that isn’t blurry and out of focus is a pretty awesome feeling!

      • I’m more than slightly jealous of you. My eyes are too badly damaged for Lasik. They told me they’ll never be able to repair my vision.

      • Opening your eyes in the morning to a world that isn’t blurry and out of focus is a pretty awesome feeling!

        Maybe so, but I’m not giving up bourbon.

      • I had Lasik in 2001. I’ve never regretted it, and it did improve my shooting. I have mild astigmatism that couldn’t be helped but it corrected me to 20/20 in the right eye and 20/15 in the left. I do use reading glasses from time to time, but I can handle that.

        Now, if only there were a way to fix being colorblind. . .

        • X chrome lenses? First I’ve heard of them, but I see they’ve been around a while.

          TTAG as a learning experience!

          Now, about this pain in my back. . .

    • As far as locating a doctor, instead of trying to explain it (and coming off sounding like a weirdo gun guy), you could always print out this post and take it to him and ask him if he’d be willing to work with you on it. I’m thinking he might “get it” better if he reads this than if you just blindside him with the question.

    • Laser correction is great for patients who are viable candidates (not everyone is). The only problem with laser correction is that it’s permanent. Your eyes continue to change throughout life so for optimal vision prescriptive eyewear ends up being shaper over the duration of years. The convenience is great for laser correction but just expect slight degradation in vision over time. Does that answer your question?

  4. What rear sight, Big Dots, mofo!

    Keep it simple, put the white circle thing over the target thing and squeeze the bang thing…

    I don’t need score card accuracy, I need “Oh sh*t, this guy is f**king shooting at me!” accuracy.

    • “I need “Oh sh*t, this guy is f**king shooting at me!” accuracy.”

      Which beyond 15 yards, most shooters no longer have with big dots. Now a standard XS express dot with a 10-8 rear, on the other hand…

      • Well played, sir.

        But, I will see your Standard Dots and raise you the “3-3-3 rule”…

        I don’t want over 15 yard accuracy, I want under 15 feet accuracy and I want it FAST because of the 3 second part, big dots are fast and simple.

  5. I did this a couple of years ago and I wear them daily. The brain rewired itself.

    I upgraded to bi-focals last year to speed up my reloads.

  6. I did the same thing 3 years ago, best thing I’ve ever done to help my shooting. I only wear them when practicing at the range and competitions (USPSA). I normally wear progressive bifocals, and there is no way I could see my front sight during matches wearing my normal glasses.

    My normal insurance covered them just like my normal glasses.

    Just to clarify, this is ONLY for practice/competition. If the SHTF, my normal glasses are good enough.

  7. Seems like a good idea for competition. In a DGU, I seriously doubt you’ll find it in you to focus on anything other than the target.

    • Agreed. I don’t think it’s going to matter in a DGU, because while you want to be accurate, you don’t need bullseye accuracy, you need minute of bad guy accuracy, and you’re probably going to have that just fine without funny lenses.

  8. I discovered (whilst at the 500 yd line USMC) that practicing front-site-post focus created a helpful illusion. My eyeball would start to fatigue and the target would seemingly get larger if I really stayed focused on the FSP. Once that happened, it was incredibly easy to hit center mass, over and over. I’ve been trying to recreate this with pistols at shorter distances without much success.

  9. My brother had Laser (or similar) surgery done on his eyes. They essentially did the same thing, directly to his cornea. The right eye is corrected for shorter focus, the left for further away – in normal everyday vision his eyes have learned to swap back and forth when transitioning close to far, far to close. He said it drove him crazy for a few weeks after the surgery – it’s been a few years now, I’ll have to ask him how he’s adapted.

  10. I’ve known I was right handed and left eye dominant for years. I was a fairly good bowler in high school and college (then life happened) and found I actually had to adjust my point of aim to hit my target.

    Several years after I stopped bowling daily is when I got into shooting. I was pissed that my handgun accuracy was non-existent. I was playing around at the range and decided to close my left eye and accuracy improved. I closed my right eye and even better….then I remembered that I was left eye dominant. It had never occurred to me that it would matter while aiming a gun.

    Only time I remember actually, physically doing a face palm.

    • I fit multifocal lenses almost every work day. They are fantastic but in a shooting scenario they may not be ideal. Due to the multiple focal zones of the lens you can get some wavy, irregular peripheral vision. For everyday use they are amazing though.

  11. Great post. I had read about this approach last year. My optometrist is – objectively via observation – sort of a wimpy looking guy. Very nice and very good and I am happy with the service, but was loathe to approach him about this topic.

    Finally, had an issue with an eye last year, went to see him about it, and while we were waiting for some eye juice to take affect for his exam, he asked what I’d been up to lately. So I took a stab at it and said, “Not much. Doing a lot of shooting at the range lately.” He immediately perked up and within minutes was dragging out his photos of recent hunting trips. Turns out the guy is mad for hunting; has been all over North America and has hunted most anything that moves. His latest addiction is bow hunting elk (we live in NM).

    Net takeaway for me is you just never know what people will do when the topic of shooting comes up (and looks can be deceiving). When I went back to see the doc the next week for another visit, I saw him as a wiry, intense, little wild man. I’ll be seeing him in Feb to work out new prescriptions to make my 50+ year old eyes a bit more functional for shooting.

    Thanks again for the post, RF. Keep this stuff coming.

  12. I’m nearsighted…with a bit of astigmatism, not bad, just 20/30 right eye, 20/40 left. I can typically use iron sights on pistols and rifles ok though, whether with glasses or contacts (contacts are MUCH better of course).
    I have a red dot on my AR, it’s a bit fuzzy, but not too noticeable. I looked at an Eotech after hearing people with nearsightnedness cant use them… The rumors are true. Even with my glasses on or off, the eotech was a fuzzy blur.
    My optometrist is a hunter…wonder if he’d go for this…

  13. RF,

    Was this before or after the AVN convention when you obtained both near and far vision…Just askin’ Glad it works for firearms too….

  14. A optomotrist can prescribe contact lenses for “Mono Vision.” How it works is that you dominate eye has a contact for seeing far in the distance, and your non-dominate eye has a prescription for reading and computer work (or looking at a pistol site). According to my optometrist friend, only about 50% of folks can tolerate it. I did it several years ago and it is incredible…

    • TRP, your optometrist friend is right more or less. Monovision has a reported success rate of up to 80% based off the medical literature. The only problem with monovision contacts is that it’s the opposite of what a shooter needs. The shooter needs the dominant eye corrected for near vision (front sight) and the non-dom eye for distance.

      • I am going to disagree. My monovision works perfect for shooting and everything else. I am right eye dominant and half corrected in that right eye l. First week was strange and then I found I adapted great.

    • To utilize this, both eyes must remain open,
      It is called a monovision prescription. Any optometrist can do it.
      Each eye has a single vision prescription, one eye does the close up work, one eye does the far work and your brain integrates the whole picture. Some can not tolerate the prescription.

      Works for shooting, works for reading information on vials and numbers on syringes even in low light.

      • The only problem with monovision contacts is that it’s the opposite of what a shooter needs. The shooter needs the dominant eye corrected for near vision (front sight) and the non-dom eye for distance. Monovision is the inverse of that.

  15. I’m not sure I understand this. I use my glasses with a “normal distance prescription” for reading and all sorts of close focal work (I have astigmatism, which my prescription also corrects, so it’s blurry if I don’t). Is the point of this that my close focus is somehow being compromised by my distance prescription?

  16. Farago, you crossed the line between self-deprecation and slander with your implication that all Jews are inbred and have poor eyesight and other health problems. Maybe your family. There are millions (estimated 10-11) of Jews. Jews are not Pitcairn Islanders. I suppose every nation with a population of ten million or less makes them inbred. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jews on average have poorer than average eyesight, but not due to a genetic inferiority, due to urbanization and a culture that favors indoors academic study over outdoors work. Sitting indoors reading and looking at screens all day is not conducive to having perfect vision. Of course, like any other large group Jews live diverse lifestyles. Giora “Hawkeye” Even (Giora Epstein), Israeli Air Force, has the highest number of kills of any pilot in the age of modern supersonic fighter jets and his extraordinary eyesight was well-known.

    I shouldn’t have to defend Jewry from accusations of being inbred and genetically inferior from anyone, but as especially a Jew like you Farago. You should be ashamed of yourself for your casual public self-hatred. Call yourself an inbred genetic weakling untermensch if you want to, Farago, but don’t drag millions of innocent people down with you. I shouldn’t have to remind you that these kinds of careless comments have led to the murder of many millions.

  17. My eyes have gotten to the point where I can focus on the front sight, the rear sight or the target but not more than two. I have transitioned all my rifles to scopes. The only open sighted long gun I use is my shotgun. For some reason I can still hit the target at 100 yards with the rifled barrel.

  18. I am left handed. When I was taught to shoot 50+ years ago, the Winchester Gun Club in New Haven, CT only had right handed Winchester 52s. I would shut my left eye and my brain learned to shoot right handed and right eyed. It was common to use a black patch over the cross dominant eye if keeping it closed was a problem. A few years ago, my optometrist told me that the modern theory was not a black patch (one eye getting light and one eye in the dark), but scotch tape over the shooing safety glasses (one eye with clear vision and one eye blurry). Since then, as an NRA instructor, I have offered about 30 people (who were cross dominant or could not close one eye) this option of scotch tape on the lens of their safety glasses. All but one of those people told me that it resolved their cross dominance problem (and relieved the subsequent neck ache). Over half of those people said that it improved the vision of the eye in the clear side. I wanted to shoot either hand, same side eye, with equal accuracy by using glasses taped on the left eye for right handed shooting, and glassed taped on the right eye for left handed shooting. I can now shoot either hand, same side eye with out the tape. It is a cheap, simple, effective way to relieve a neck ache.

  19. Cautionary note: I had this done back in the mid-90’s because I’m a cross-eyed right hander. It wasn’t for the focal plane thingie, it was to flip the eye dominance (which it does) and my optometrist was a shooter himself and, I guess to distance himself from the pack, had a specialty of making glasses for all types of sports – golf, baseball, shooting, etcetera. Right lens is fixed focal point at the front blade of my four inch 686, measured in the shop, and left lens is my ordinary prescription, which is an extremely light astigmatism that’s barely noticeable.

    I don’t wear them anymore, and shoot without prescription specs at all. Using the short focal length has the same effect on me as a pair of bifocals, and I found myself bumbling around competitions and the range, right eye closed, unless I was required to read or write in which case I closed the left. The brain makes that adjustment with monocular contact lenses, but IT AIN’T IMMEDIATE. Or maybe my brain is missing that part, too. And it may be that if your eyes are uber-crappy in the first place, it’s an easier transition.

    If you’re like me, though, before you pop for a pair of custom peepers, you might get a cheap pair of 2.5 diopter cheaters at Walgreens, knock out the inapplicable lens, and wear them around for a few minutes. It’s a close simulation of what you’ll experience. If you can handle it your split times will shrink to half and your spreads will tighten by 90%, probably. You might even throw more lead in less time than a Ghost Rifle.

    • That’s not a bad suggestion Shaky Dave, but +2.50 might be to strong depending on the focal length. For a rifle a +1.00-1.50 would work much better. For a handgun a +1.50-2.00 would be ideal. Unless you have short little raptor arms, a +2.50 will have you focusing closer to your elbow than your front site.

  20. As a p.s., I have also used Gary’s method with scotch tape on my shooting glasses, or one of the tiny adhesive round target patches, orange or black, doesn’t matter, or even the field expedient booger method of rubbing my finger alongside of my nose, then a light smudge on the left lens in front of the eye, or even a quick left-eye wink as my gun is coming up. Or, about half the time, I just close my left eye. It’s cheap, easy, and I don’t have to carry a roll of tape around. I could even leave my nose at home.

  21. I changed my shooting glasses to monovision (dominant eye for sights, non-dominant for distance) 2 years ago. Worked so well I changed my every day glasses to that approach also. The idea’s been around for a long time. First time I heard of it was more than 15 years ago.

  22. My normal Rx for contacts is -1.25 for left, and -1.00 for right (dominant). Assuming I keep the left contact in, what diopter should my right contact be for shooting?
    Thanks!

  23. When I first read this post, I had just gotten (back) into shooting and was dealing with “old eyes” that had never bothered me a whit during my misspent youth. It was, pardon the pun, an eye-opener. I continue to follow vision-related info on the intertubz and wanted to mention these posts which dive into various correction techniques in some detail, as well as WHY shooters often fall short of their needs when given standard prescriptions. The 2nd link is for geeks who really want to understand the types of vision-related challenges that will face them as “time passes” for them:

    http://chrissajnog.com/vision-and-shooting-and-aging-part-1/
    http://chrissajnog.com/vision-shooting-and-aging-2/

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