Friday, March 14, 2014

Alternation, cyclopean eye and the attentional spotlight

As my eyes are aligned most of the time by now I have no real concept of alternating between both eyes anymore. Despite the mechanical alignment of my eyes, I still do not use them equally. My vision still seems to be rather lateralized to the right. When I intentionally give myself double vision by moving my eyes apart, the image from my right eye is still the 'main image' and the one from the left eye feels secondary. In fact, in double vision mode I can still alternate. I can switch main images and make the one from the right eye 'secondary'. So my subjective viewing perspective is not yet positioned in the middle of my head. My cyclopean eye is not positioned behind my nose. Most of the time I'm seeing the world from the right side of my head (subjectively, because this probably indicates there's a strong lateralization towards the left hemisphere). This means that even though my left eye nicely follows my right eye, it's still not an equal part of the team.

I'm doing a couple of things to actively work on that. As mentioned in previous entries I apply filters or transparent tape on my glasses to blur out vision in my dominant eye putting the left eye in charge. This changes the entire visual situation to the other extreme without entirely discouraging binocular eye teaming. I do this while doing all kinds of activities and it is effective in regaining and integrating the left eye into the visual system. But lately there's more... Aside from actively training, it is equally important in my experience to relax and just play with your perception. Often I lie or sit down and let my eyes wander around having things go double. Rather than constant pathological diplopia or double vision this is controlled physiological diplopia I can instantly resolve at will. So during those playful sessions I give myself double vision (vergence), blur and unblur my vision (accommodation) and more generally flex my visual system without overdoing it. Then I try to focus my attentional spotlight in between  the two images so neither one of them is the main or secondary image. I'm trying to rebalance the equation by relaxing, playing, flexing, dreaming, focusing attention in the middle of the double images. It's pretty cool but the circumstances need to be right. One of the biggest problems facing visually impaired people in recovering is intolerance and lack of understanding. After all, I'm well informed  now and I found a place to rest my head but things have been different...

Another interesting topic I wanted to bring up again is how awesome bar reading is. I think this exercise is so cool because of its simplicity and capacity to combine cognitive integration while doing visual exercise. It also clearly shows that visual problems are a biology problem, not a technology problem. All you need is a piece of plastic, cheap glasses, a book and a peaceful environment. In the past I would clearly express to other people how I had to chose between eye alignment or cognitive activity like reading. Not that they'd understand. :) That situation of course makes it very hard to read if you experience double vision rather than suppression... Now I'm entering a stage where I can more or less do the visual stuff and the cognitive stuff at the same time. The line between the visual brain functions and other cognitive abilities is blurry at best so we might just say overall capacity is improving. Reading comprehension while bar reading isn't very good but I'm trying to go for good visual exercise rather than intellectual distinction for the moment. In adherence to this idea, I'm going to try paint an old chess board in red and green colors. That would be nice visual and cognitive integration too if I can make it to be 'cheat proof'.

This week I finally received all supplies needed to try tDCS and I will do it this weekend. To be continued...


  1. I really enjoyed this post, Michael. You demonstrate all the concepts and strategies a good therapist uses to alternate between raising consciousness to a process, streamlining it, and then shifting it towards automaticity.

    Bar readers are an interesting challenge... why not "lower the bar" on the material to test your comprehension. Use children's books, and/or larger print and work down from there.

    While you are looking for cheat-proof, you can try red/greens and a sorting activity, like with buttons or attribute blocks. Make a Venn diagram of different sets, and work out where all the pieces go.
    Thanks as always for sharing your journey!
    Dr. Samantha Slotnick

    1. Thanks for the feed back :) Yes, apart from the fact it has been a long time coming things are moving in the right direction. I'm curious where it will end...

      I did lower the bar by changing language and reading something more recreational. It's a little easier indeed. I hope my reading will improve as for it to be workable within a year or so. Right now my vision is still quite inconsistent, I have to sleep a lot and by the end of the day there's no way I can do bar reading... But at least I can already so some bar reading earlier in the day haha!

      Based on all you've read, what would be your prognosis? Don't feel obliged, I'm just curious. I hope as my motor abilities improve the sensory part will fall into place. I'm relatively relaxed nowadays and that's how it feels sometimes, even though I didn't had any grand revelations yet.