What Does It Mean If You Can't See A Magic Eye Picture?

Are you looking to play tricks on your own mind? Look no further than magic eye pictures. Also known as autostereograms, magic eye pictures are images made from colorful dots which contain hidden 3-D images (via The New York Museum of Illusions). They first became popular in the early 1990s when an advertiser named Tom Baccei decided to insert a magic eye picture into a magazine ad. The picture contained a hidden code readers could send in to win a prize. 

The campaign was a huge success, and nowadays, magic eye pictures have spread to museums and books across the nation. But it might surprise you to learn that not everyone is able to see autostereograms. Despite every effort to decipher the message hidden in colorful code, some viewers simply can't see the 3-D image. What's going on in these situations? There are a few possible physical explanations, according to Brown University. For one, some people have issues with their vision — such as blurriness or astigmatism — that they may not have noticed. Other conditions, like esophoria, also called "lazy eye," can also prevent you from seeing hidden images.

But there are other possible explanations beyond physical issues, too.

The best viewing technique for magic eye pictures

Sometimes, the problem with visualizing magic eye pictures is your technique. In order to see a Magic Eye Picture, you can't simply look directly at the picture. You have to look past it, focusing on a point beyond the picture itself for several minutes before the image will reveal itself (via Brown University). For some people, this can be very hard to successfully achieve, especially if you're not practiced at it.

If you'd like to improve your ability to see magic eye pictures, there are a few different techniques you can try. First, make sure you are viewing the picture in bright lighting. The brighter the lighting, the easier it is to see the hidden image. Second, try focusing on a point beyond the picture, such as the wall or something between you and the wall. Then raise up the picture, or the screen showing the picture, while maintaining your level of focus on this distant object. This will help prevent you from focusing directly on the object itself. Finally, you can try the "pull-back" technique, in which you start by viewing the magic eye picture very close to your face. Then, gradually pull the magic eye picture away from your face. Once it reaches the correct distance for you to see the hidden image, it should appear.