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The human eye and the meaning of focus

You’ve likely heard of the importance of ‘finding a business niche’. Broadly speaking, finding and focusing on a business niche can have its benefits. But how do you decide what constitutes a niche? Further, how do you define focus itself?


There’s an interesting parallel between these questions and how human vision works.


The area our eyes are able to see in sharp, full definition at any given moment is actually quite small compared to our total field of vision, including our peripheral vision.


The human eye has a small area on the retina called the fovea centralis that is responsible for our sharp, detailed vision. Interestingly, the fovea centralis is responsible for only about 1-2% of our total visual field, meaning that a mere 1-2% of our vision is in full definition. The rest (98-99%) of what we see at any given moment is made up of our peripheral vision. The 1-2% of high-definition vision is roughly the size of 3-6 words in a book or the size of your thumbnail with your arm fully extended.


To test this, try looking at the first word in a sentence without allowing your eyes to move across the page. How many words can you recognize without letting your eyes move at all?


So, if only 1-2% of our visual field is in high definition, why don't we perceive the world around us as blurry and out of focus? It's because our eyes are rapidly and continuously scanning our environment, stitching together a high-resolution picture of the world.


This creates an interesting implication for what it means to focus on something. If we were to truly focus our eyes in one place while reading a book, we’d miss everything.


In reality, focus requires a great deal of rapid and constant changes. It's limiting those rapid and continuous changes to a specific area of value that's the real trick. It's about successfully defining the edges of the page, the start and finish of the book, or the size of the domain in which you will direct your points of focus.

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