Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Stretching open the portal is working

For now.  For now, stretching open the port is working.

By that, I'm talking about the fixation cards exercise wherein I slowly and deliberately try to stretch fixation across both eyes.  Inevitably when I stretch over to the other side, while slowly moving the card closer and farther away, I will switch fixation to the other eye.  However, I pay very close to the feeling of the stretching, and I don't sweat it when I switch over.  Not switching eyes isn't my goal at the moment.  Stretching my fixation ability across both eyes simultaneously is.

It's a hard, tricky, and subtle technique, and one that I'm convinced I never would have discovered had I not learned how to slow down, relax, and hyperfocus my mind via meditation.  Your brain and mind are doing a lot of things that you'll never get to see and appreciate without the crazy levels of focus and introspection you can attain with a rigorous meditation practice.

Stretching open the portal appears to be the exercise that is doing the most lifting at the moment.  I actually don't think it's Vivid Vision.  I think in my case with vision therapy--the process requires raw, deliberate, conscious effort, and there's no way of getting around that.  I don't think a guy like me will ever break the lifelong habit of using my eyes incorrectly by playing a game.  That's not knock on Vivid Vision--I think they are amazing, and what they are doing is amazing and admirable--that's just my impression at the moment.

It goes back a little to a previous entry in which I reflect about why I think vision therapy is so much easier for children than for adults.  And my thesis is that vision therapy is easier for children not so much because of their high neuroplasticity as much as it is that they don't have a strong preference for doing anything in any particular way--simply because they lack experience.

Well, I have a ton of experience.  I have a ton of experience in using my eyes incorrectly.  33 years in fact.  And that, I feel, has a lot to do with the apparent requirement for me having to learn how to meditate and devise ways of trenching new neural pathways, manually and consciously trying to convince each neuron in the chain, that yes, this will eventually be worthwhile.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Getting close to fusion

I probably have five entries titled something along the lines of 'focusing on fusion'.  It's something I've been focusing on lately, but in a different manner.  Lately, my strategy has been focusing on getting fixation on both eyes simultaneously, and today, I think I finally got that a little for the first time.

I've talked in entries past about how I can fix with one eye and the other eye is sort of just hanging along for the ride.  I can see through the non-fixing eye and its input is sort of lazily drifting around, while the fixing eye's is rock-solid.  Well, I've been using that drifting image as a means of feedback to know that I'm not fixing properly with that eye.  I can switch over to the drifting image, make it rock-solid, but then the other image starts drifting.  Whack-a-mole.  So the strategy has been to pay extremely close attention to that moment when there is a switchover from control of one eye to the other--sensitizing myself to that switchover--building on that ability.  It's extremely subtle and hard to detect the instant it happens.  But I've been getting better at it, and as I've gotten better at it, the less the non-fixing eye seems to drift around.  So I think that a good exercise to do.  It seems to be doing something.

Today near the end of the exercise--I did 20 minutes, but added another few because I was doing well--I actually was fixing with both eyes for a few moments.  Controlling both eyes independently simultaneously.  Singing and playing guitar at the same time.  It was feeble.  And surprisingly--the images weren't superimposed.  But **I** was definitely behind both eyes at the same time.  But if I can get to this state sooner next exercise, I should be able to build the motor ability of both-eye coordination to the point where I can increasingly easily get superimposition--err--fusion.

When I was doing the modified Brock String, I noticed I was definitely getting an X.  It was really satisfying.  One of the lines of the X was a little translucent, but it was the Xest X I'd yet experienced--an indicator of decreased suppression.

When I was doing Vivid Vision---there was a point where something came at me unexpectedly and I jumped and yet 'shit!!'.  I felt electricity jump through my arms.  That was the first time I had an experience quite like that in VR.  

Another thing I noticed I'm definitely getting blending.  When I superimpose things on each other--if they're different colors, like yellow and blue--it becomes green.  Blending.  So I have definitely come quite a ways.  The indicators are everywhere.  I'm going to keep doing this thing now.  Keep blogging and see where this goes.  Should be good.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Still stretching open the portal

Yeah, I waver between optimism and pessimism.  But none of that wavering changes the fact that my vision is changing.  My vision has never been better than it is now and it is because of the exercises that I'm doing.  Those reasons alone make quitting an impossibility.  In the most basic sense, what I'm doing now is the same as I've done in the begnning.  Constantly looking at what I'm doing, sensing what exercises producing the best results, and then tweaking the exercises.

I've changed my regimen a bit.  Now it's 20 minutes of fixation cards, five minutes modified Brock String, and 20 minutes of Vivid Vision.  And I'm doing less vision therapy.  I'm going to cut down to doing vision therapy three times a week.  Let's just see how that goes.  I don't think it's going to have a negative impact.

I mean, because of vacations and visiting my family in New Hampshire, there have been periods in which I wasn't doing any vision therapy.  But I do find myself in idle time playing with my eyes and playing with this middle zone between switching eyes, and trying to stretch that space out as much as possible so that I'm using both eyes more and more as time goes on.  If you know what vision therapy exercises are doing, you don't really need equipment for vision therapy.  You can do vision training anytime by consciously doing what it is that the vision therapy exercises constrain you to do.

The 20 minutes of fixation cards seems to have been a good decision.

I am doing weird things to my brain by doing this exercise.  I am really finding the spot and paying as much attention as possible to what is happening when I switch from eye to eye.  Doing this appears to lessen eye preference over time, and I'm noticing significantly reduced suppression when doing the Brock String as a result of this.  Also, Vivid Vision is becoming trippier.  VR--I think--with stereopsis is going to be an entirely different experience.  Slowly, I'm tearing open this door in between my eyes.  Finding this new muscle and building it.  That is the key--first finding this capability--and then building on it.

I think I'm onto something.  I will keep going.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Opening the door to Narnia

I made an adjustment to the regimen.

I'm now doing 20 minutes of fixation cards.  Also, I've changed the way I do the fixation cards.  It's a little hard to explain but here goes.

I'm not focusing on the in-between between fixing with the right eye vs with the left.  It is a very odd sensation, because that moment between changing eyes is done almost without me being aware of it.  What I'm going to try and do is keep switching between the eyes slowly as possible, and train my ability to detect the switch, and just go slower and slower until I find the point at which both eyes are under my command.

It's so weird because the targets are red and green, and it switches between red and green without my awareness, even though I'm triggering it and willing for it to happen.  Vision therapy can definitely be trippy, and sort of borderline philosophical (who's doing what?  What is the I?  What am I?) practice.

 Displaying IMG_20170617_155313.jpg
That's the card I'm working with.  You see that dirt on the middle right bottom?  That's oil from my fingers from having used this same card for around a year for about 15 minutes per day.  That's about 92 hours of holding that sheet.

Hopefully as I get closer to that inbetween state, I can stay there, become sensitive that that new place, and keep enlargening the door so that I can eventually walk through.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

Using less prism again

I'm fairly certain that I'm making progress.  I am noticing more depth in Vivid Vision.  My eyes are aligning.  I just wish things would move quicker.

I am now operating under the idea that fusion should not require much effort.  Now when I'm doing the fixation cards, after I've been using the seven diopter prism for a while it gets to the point where it's easier to get fusion if I use less prism.  This, I think, is because the fixation card exercise practices fusion, and my brain then tries to continue that practice when looking at things in the world.  This, of course, doesn't involve prism, so the result is that the brain gets used to no prism a bit so when I go back to the exercise later with seven diopter prism, there's less need for so much.  As a result, over time with doing this exercise, I need less and less.

Now I'm using just four, but it's a legitimate four--unless something happens and I have to move back in order to get effortless fusion.

So yeah, things are moving along I suppose.  I really have been noticing some depth changes, and decreased suppression, especially when looking at bottles on desks, or the books on my bookcase.  I am noticing the input more and more.  I'll do this for a couple more months, ride it out, get as much out of it as possible, and then re-adjust if need be.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Advantages and disadvantages in doing vision therapy as an adult

I think it's fairly reasonable to say that it's way easier to get results in vision therapy if you're doing it as a child.  I once asked this question to a vision therapist that I know and her answer was 'Children fix their vision without even trying.'

A big part of the reason is to do with neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is significantly higher in children, although we have it for our entire lives.  The different levels of neuroplasticity between adults and children is the reason why if you move to a new country when you're six, you'll learn to speak that new language perfectly, with no accent in a few years or less.  But if you go to a new country when you're 20 years old you'll never get rid of the accent, even if you live there for 50 years.

It's the same reason why it's harder to get results when doing vision therapy as an adult.

The biological process of learning is different depending on your age.  When you're learning a new language as a child, you build gray matter in the brain.  When you're learning a new language as an adult, you lose gray matter in the brain.  Sucks.

According to Anders Ericsson, becoming good at anything--whatever it is, playing golf, looking at things with both eyes, playing the piano--is achieved by leveraging neuroplasticity.

I'm starting to come to look at neuroplasticity a little differently these days.  I think that maybe in order to achieve my vision therapy goals I have more than enough neuroplasticity.  What is proving and proves to be my difficulty is knowing what to do, and being aware of what is happening and being aware of what my possibilities are at any given moment.

This may be a different way of looking at neuroplasticity.  When you're old, you get set in your ways.  Your excess synapses get pruned.  This paves the way for quicker and more reliable high-level circuits, but it also reduces the number available options--ways of doing things, ways of thinking, habits, etc.

For a child to fix his vision, maybe the reason it's easy is because everything is new to him.  It's not difficult for him for a new thought to occur, or for it to occur to him to do something in a different way.  It doesn't matter as much to him whether he uses his eye this way or that way, because he has very little experience doing it either way.

That is why it's harder for adults to achieve one's goals in doing vision therapy as an adult.  It's not that you don't have the required neuroplasticity.  It's the habit of doing things the way you've always done them.  The inertia which makes it so hard to probe around, and make a new connection.

This is why a good vision therapist is so important--and why even if you have a good vision therapist--you have to make a concerted effort to understand what you are doing, to remain open, probe around and think about what effect the exercises you are doing have on your visual system.

In other words, vision therapy is way easier for children because of their huge neuroplasticity and lack of preference for doing things in a certain way.   The advantage that adults have is that, while they have significantly less neuroplasticity, they have more than enough, and they have the ability to intellectualize (if they have the temperament) how to leverage that neuroplasticity.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Noticing a pattern

I've been noticing a pattern in which I appear to graduate to a lower prism too quickly.

I'll get to a point where I think I am ready to gradulate to a lower prism, and then I go to the lower prism, and then I'll stop making progress.  Then I'll go back to the higher prism and then I'll continue making progress again.

Today I went back to the seven diopter prism because I noticed that getting the fusion was requiring a lot of effort.  The impression that I'm getting is that when you're doing fixation card exercises and attempting to get fusion, you don't want the exercise to be effortful.  You want the attempted fusion to be effortless.  I've got to remember this, and stop moving forward too quickly.  

That's what I get for doing this solo.  I am continually making mistakes, but at least I'm learning from them.  There's no possible way that I could do what I'm doing without journaling.

I did notice something very interesting while doing the fixation cards.  I was getting damn near close to fusion while using the seven-diopter prism.  When doing the fixation cards, you notice three circles.  The middle circle is the fused circle, and the two others are seen by each eye.  Well, I noticed that it appears that the circle on the right side shrinks and gets bigger while I move the paper closer and farther away.  I've sort of noticed this a little in the past, but now I just noticed it quite a lot more.  It's odd.  It must be something to do with the binocular depth neurons coming online.  I also noticed quite a few more depth effects while playing some of the Vivid Vision games.  I can't say more about VV obviously.

It's a little annoying and tiresome constantly going back and forth with progress starting, stalling, starting, and again stalling.  But I am inching toward my goal, and I am periodically noticing depth effects that I'd never seen before.  I think it's going to happen.  I just have to pay attention to what I'm doing and continually revamp my methods as required.