Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Session 44: Doing time

I've been working with the Aperture Rule for two weeks now. The device once again proves the things I have been explaining about vergence and accommodation. This device comes with two plates you can change.

The one with the one hole is to train convergence and the one with the two holes is to learn how to diverge your eyes. Depending on where you put the plate the degree of difficulty changes and there are 12 levels. With both plates I can only reach level 4 but the reason why I can't make it to the next level differ for each one. When I go to level 5 with convergence plate I have to blur out the image to a degree that I don't really see what image is presented and don't really know whether I'm having good fusion or not. When I go to level 5 with the divergence plate the problem is not getting a clear image, the problem is I can't aim my eyes correctly for the images to overlap nicely. So there you have it... Same accommodation and vergence story again. The problem is really evident and so is the solution... It's already been a hell of a ride so why not go that extra mile. Considering everything I have the progress I expected to have so it's just about making that effort and doing that time.

Talking about doing time... I read research the other day that this type of perfectly treatable (but most often ignored) binocular eye conditions is strongly asociated with learning problems and consequently with criminality and low economic and social outcomes. The inmate population has a significantly higher percentage of this problem than the general population. My optometrist also told me about research during which they made inmates do VT and they saw significant behavioral improvements because of reduced stress and frustration. It sure feels like being locked up and reminded me of a funny discussion I had about a year ago with my friend Anja. I was seriously freaking out about having limited options because of graduating with double vision and I needed more time to fix the problem. Fortunately by then I had already figured out how to at least... She commented as a joke: 'You can rob a bank. If it works out you are rich and have time, if it doesn't work out you got time to work on your eyes in prison.' Let's just say the opportunity costs for the individual and society of not making serious work of this shit are huge. More about this later.

PS: A fellow patient peed her pants today, but being a little kid is a good excuse :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

No more emotional meltdowns for Asher

That kid is me but only ginger. Housework did take ages, I had a lot of meltdowns and actually threw a few chairs in school once hahah
Video by Wow Vision Therapy

Friday, October 26, 2012

News from Heather in Michigan

"Yesterday was just a crazy 3D day. It pops in at the strangest times. We have an island in the middle of our City and I like to go down and eat lunch there sometimes. As I was pulling onto the island I had this huge sense of depth perception. I don't even know how to explain it. It was scary and fun all at the same time. And then it just went away. :( "

  But as sh e continues with VT there will be more 3D, and longer, and easier! Some people discribed it as a sudden pop into a 3D world... Others as a gradual process going back and forth for a while with a final irreversable pop at the end. Every brain is different. I have been experiencing some sporadic changes too this week but I'm not sure what it means. It's like something is hiding beneath the surface but doesn't show its face... Or I might be losing my mind. Either way, my brain is changing :D

Friday, October 19, 2012

The stereo blind podologist

I had a little ingrown nail issue and I went to a podologist my mother recommended. She drilled the lil fucker out and then pulled it by the root. She said: 'You must have a very high pain threshold because you didn't even flinch.' 'This is nothing, I've had bigger health issues than this', I replied. She got curious so I told her about the eye operations etc. The girl is my age and I could see the reflection of the lights in both her eyes so by the looks of it she has perfect eye alignment. Turns out she has strabismus too! She's been operated as a child and suffered a lot from it... She suppresses one image so is spared double vision but relying on the one image means she has no stereovision either. Not knowing what stereovision feels like she doesn’t really realise it, but experiences other seemingly not eye-related health problems. She told me about the nausea and all the other stuff. The operation was done by the doctor who applied damage control when I was totally done for. He's definitely the best guy to perform an operation and he did a great job on her and given the circumstances also on me. Last summer she went back to him because her eyes were slowly losing track again... He proposed another operation but she declined and got stronger glasses. He's a great surgeon but doesn't mention Vision Therapy as a means of visual rehabilitation, which is a huge shame. Of course I told her about and VT. She was like 'So there's still hope?' My gross ingrown nail saved her vision it seems. Hahah

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The extreme visual skills of an Apache fighter pilot

My VT friend Diane Lourens Calvert from New Zealand shared a very cool excerpt with me from a book called “Apache” by Ed Macy about Apache fighter pilots in Afghanistan. Earlier I blogged about a different kind of ‘Vision Therapy’ during which a blind man learned how to see with his tongue. This anecdote is at least as interesting!

“A monocle sat permanently over our right iris. A dozen different instrument readings from around the cockpit were projected into it... The monocle left the pilot's left eye free to look outside the cockpit, saving him the few seconds that it took to look down at the instruments then up again; seconds that could mean the difference between our death and our enemy's. New pilots suffered terrible headaches as the left and right eye competed for dominance. They started within minutes, long before take off....

As the eyes adjusted over the following weeks and months the headaches took longer to set in. It was a year before mine disappeared altogether. It took me two years to learn how to "see" properly - how to see in Apache World. I once filmed my face during a sortie with a video camera as an experiment. My eyes whirled independently of each other throughout, like a man possessed. "That's disgusting," Emily said when I showed her the tape. "But does it mean you can read two books at once?" I tried it. I could.”

This is another example of the amazing brain plasticity that humans possess. Of course these pilots have excellent binocular vision to start with before entering this kind of training. You need a solid foundation to build on and establish this extra skill set. This man has acquired extreme visual flexibility that allows him to go from healthy stereovision to a controlled state of double vision that, most astonishingly of all, he can use for productive purposes in less than a second. Maybe something to consider after finally acquiring healthy stereovision. :D

Also see:
- Air Force Study Confirms Efficacy of Vision Training

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Session 43: A picture is worth a thousand words

Last week I was a bit sick and nothing seemed to work but this week things seem to be better. Sometimes it would just be easier to be a robot and shut down the stream of consciousness, wouldn't it? Either way it's better not to cumulate too many diseases at once :D In today’s session we did some of the usual stuff... The rotoscope, balancing on the rail with various prism glasses and one exercise we did a few times before. This exercise consists of standing upwards, looking though some kind of holder at eye height and connect the dots. As simple as that! But there's two problems with this. First, the holder is made for small people, probably children, and can't reach my eye height. Second, the whole thing is an illusion so your pencils are never actually going to touch. Then again, the whole concept of 3D vision is about a healthy kind of illusion :)

We did this a couple of times before and you can see the differences in the drawing. To me this is pretty spectacular because I don't feel myself changing on a day to day basis, even though I am. Being the geek that I am, I produced some evidence.

My pencil drawings are supposed to be symmetrical and stop at the fold in the paper that I indicated with a black line. Clearly, advanced Photoshop skills were used for this manipulation. In February 2011 I obviously transgressed that line due to bad eye positioning. Today the result was much better.

Last but not least, I got a new toy to play with at home called an Aperture Rule. It's not just for little girls but I'm pretty sure she is better at it than I am at this point :)


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vision Therapy in the eighties

This is a PSA for Vision Therapy from the eighties. This means that it's been out there for a long time! 'I was working at the word processor and experienced a headache. More than 40 million Americans use some kind of computer screen every day and a great many of them have eye strain and headaches' hahah. Anyways, aside from the retro aspects not much has changed, including the fact that VT needs have remained underserved over the years causing sorrow to many.

It's incredible how this lifesaving knowledge hasn't become mainstream over the years. I've done some more research and the validity of Vision Therapy and the effects of not undergoing it when necessary have been documented for over half a century. The consequences of not being administered VT are far-reaching and I will dedicate a later post to these findings. Thank God I learned English! Hopefully VT will be lifted from obscurity thanks to more recent findings in the field of Neuroscience concerning brain plasticity as displayed by Susan Barry amongst others. The good thing about science is that it's true, whether you believe in it or not.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Session 42: Accommodation versus Vergence?

The visual system, as far as your actual eyes are concerned, consists of two systems which have to be in tune with each other. On the one hand there is the accommodation system which makes sure the image you see is clear and sharp. On the other hand there is the vergence system that makes sure your eyes are both aiming at your target. For most people a well functioning vergence system, meaning aligned eyes, is one of the first things they learn in life and is at the core of their habit formation. This is something that cannot be fixed by simply putting on a pair of glasses. It requires a learning process to anchor this reflex into the brain so it will never be lost. However the accommodative system can be corrected for by glasses so the image you see is clear. Having to wear glasses for simple accommodation, as is the case for many people, isn't a big deal. In young children eye coordination (vergence) isn't really established yet and too much pressure on the accommodative system can unsettle healthy eye movement, leading down a dark path. This can happen with farsighted children who have to put in too much of an effort to accommodate in order to see things close up and as a result eye coordination breaks. This is what happened to me and my eyes and brain have been malfunctioning ever since. It shouldn't have been a big problem if they had given me glasses earlier. Or started me on Vision Therapy as a kid or even as a teenager. Or...

That brings me to today’s session. Currently those two systems aren't working in sync very well, they are working based on tradeoffs. If I blur out my vision and accept an unclear image, my eyes can take on certain positions. If I decide I want to see clearly to read something for instance, eye coordination gives up. It's pretty interesting if I tell it like that, but also pretty annoying to live with. The good news is that the sum of both systems is starting to yield better results (synergies, business school pays off after all!). Eye coordination is starting to hold up WHILE seeing a clear image. Be that as it may, we are still talking about baby steps... The only way to achieve these better results is to lay low. The only way to fix this problem is to lower the load, rest and slowly work on it before putting it back in rotation. As in any discipline overtraining is the worst you can do because at the end of the day you are weaker. Crawling out 40 marathons over 4 years with a broken leg without proper medical treatment doesn't make you stronger, it kills you. That's what university was to me. Boy, this is starting to sound like a depressing message but actually it's not. :D As the body and brain are pretty amazing we are rebuilding what has never been little by little and are reconciling both systems, and it’s working. Celebrate every small improvement.