Here are a few variations of this activity that you might try.
Fill in your blind spot:
Draw a straight line across the card, from one edge to the other, through the center of the cross and the dot, and try again. Notice that when the dot disappears, the line appears to be continuous, without a gap where the dot used to be.
Your brain automatically “fills in” the blind spot with a simple extrapolation of the image surrounding the blind spot. This is why you don’t notice the blind spot in your day-to-day observations of the world.
Measure the size of your blind spot without a partner: Take a new card and mark a cross near the left edge of a 3 × 5 card. Hold the card about 10 inches from your face. (It's helpful to use a meter stick or ruler to measure this distance; you'll need it to calculate the size of your blind spot.)
Close your left eye and look directly at the cross with your right eye. Move a pen across the card until the point of the pen disappears in your blind spot. Mark the places where the pen point disappears. Use the pen to trace the shape and size of your blind spot on the card. Then you can measure the diameter of the blind spot on the card (see equation below).
Measure the size of your blind spot with a partner:
Hold your 3 x 5 card at arm's length. Have your partner measure the distance from the card to your eye.
Slowly move the card horizontally left and right, and note where the cross disappears and reappears. Have your partner measure the distance between the two places where the dot disappears and reappears.
In our simple model, we are assuming that the eye behaves like a pinhole camera, with the pupil as the pinhole. In such a model, the pupil is 0.78 in (2 cm) from the retina. Light travels in a straight line through the pupil to the retina. Similar triangles can then be used to calculate the size of the blind spot on your retina. The simple equation for this calculation is
s/2 = d/D
where s is the size of the blind spot on your retina (in cm), d is the diameter of the blind spot on the card, and D is the distance from your eye to the card (in the examples above, 10 in [25 cm] or the length of your arm, roughly 2–2.5 feet (60–75 cm). Note that d and D must always be expressed in the same units, whether inches or centimeters.
This Science Snack is part of a collection that highlights Black artists, scientists, inventors, and thinkers whose work aids or expands our understanding of the phenomena explored in the Snack.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Dr. Patricia Bath (1942-2019), pictured above, was an ophthalmologist and laser scientist, and was the first woman chair of ophthalmology at a US university. She studied the causes of and cures for blindness, and invented a widely used method of using laser surgery to treat blindness caused by cataracts. Dr. Bath also co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. This Science Snack can help you investigate the structures in the eye that help you see, so you can understand the eye like Dr. Bath did.