Friday, November 29, 2013

#167 session: tDCS with syntonics

I've been interested in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) ever since I'd heard about its apparent legitimacy.  Basically how it works is you pass current through your brain via anode (positive electrode) and cathode (negative electrode).  The current passes through the body, completing the circuit and if the electrodes are set up properly, the current should pass through the brain.  Whatever brain region is directly under the anode becomes depolarized (positively charged).  This brings neurons closer to the firing threshold, so they fire a lot easier since now you're injecting energy from an outside source (9-volt battery in this case), instead of relying on the body's metabolism to provide the resources to continually pump ions in and out of the neuron.  You basically release a lot of burden from the body to make the neurons work by having a 9-volt battery do the work.  And it makes the excited region of the brain work much more efficiently, and a lot of interesting consequences come from this.

There are a lot of interesting studies about how tDCS has an incredible number of potential applications.  It's known to help people with depression, recover from brain injuries, and it can also supercharge the brain so that you think better.  The military uses it to cut down on the time that it takes to train drone pilots.

Since tDCS can apparently increase neural plasticity, and since vision therapy relies on neural plasticity, it seems like these two should, in theory, be a natural pair.  So I Googled 'tDCS' and 'vision therapy'.  Sure enough, there are articles about combining vision therapy with tDCS which indicate that people who use tDCS with vision therapy recover stereopsis quicker than people who don't.  So the theory makes sense, and there are data to back it up.

I recently bought a kit for $40 from and tested it with a digital multimeter.  Sure enough, it provided the correct 2 milliamperes.  I did my normal vision therapy exercises, and then when it came to the light tube, I saturated the electrodes with some saline that I made, put the two anodes on the o1 and o2 positions on the occipital lobe, put the cathode on my right shoulder, and then plugged in the 9-volt battery.

After about five minutes I could feel some tingling.  I didn't think I would feel it because I had split the anode (so it should be 1 ampere per anode), but it was there.  It was only mildly irritating.  I had it on for about 25 minutes while I did my circular movement light tube exercise.  Then I turned it off and the tingling stopped.

It did seem to make my vision a little better while I was on it.  When I looked at my monitor from across the room it looked bigger and clearer, but it could just be my imagination.  The next day, I did notice significant improvement, especially when playing XCOM.  Things were much more 'there' during the cutscenes.

That's just with one tDCS session.  I'm going to keep using it to see what happens.  Today I think I'm going to only use one anode and place it on the o2 (right occipital lobe) region.  According to the studies, tDCS is particularly effective for getting rid of suppression.  The left eye's vision is what I want to have integrated, so that's why I'm going to concentrate the full two milliamperes on the o2 position.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thoughts on the circular movement light tube exercise

This exercise seems to be perfect for fixing the last problem that I have: the driftage problem of the lazy eye.  I finally understand what that driftage problem was.  I can move the lazy eye fine--it's just that the motor control that the brain has over that eye is too low resolution.  Coarse movements work pretty well, but small, delicate and precise movements, which are necessary for proper stereopsis still suck quite a bit.  That's what's going on, and that's what the circular movement light tube exercise addresses.

While doing the exercise just a few minutes ago, I noticed that there are a few things that help make the exercise effective.

  1. I fix with the normal eye as always, but then I pay special attention to the lazy-eye image. 
  2. I try to make the scene as bright as possible. 
  3. I pay attention to the way the muscles in the lazy eye feel and then I pay attention to the way that the feeling of the muscles relates to the movements of the lazy-eye image.  I put as much focus as possible on that relationship.  
By doing these things, particularly number 3, I've found that I can substantially cut down on the amount of defusing that's normally seen with this exercise.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#162 session

I'm still noticing incremental improvements.  No stereopsis just yet, but I'm confident that I'll get there, and sooner rather than later.  It's super exciting to think about.  I'll finally be able to move on with my life--but with a visual system that's a hell of a lot better.

I'm noticing more depth, especially when playing Tomb Raider.  Holy crap. When I move the camera around, things pop out right in front of me.  It's like it's RIGHT in front of me.  And my depth perception is improving on a nearly daily basis.

Anyway, I told the group about this light tube exercise that I fashioned--incorporating side-to-side movement while looking into the tube.  Michael told me that he had already been doing something similar, except instead of moving his head side to side, he would move his head in a circular direction.  I tried doing that myself, and my vision definitely became double.  But after around 40 minutes of that, it went substantially down.  I noticed significant improvement simply by making this adjustment.  It's one of the reasons I've found it to be super important to have a community.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

#158 session

I'm getting pretty excited.  I've seen quite a bit more improvement over the past few days.  I've been noticing, in particular, that I have been killing the light tube exercises.  For instance, maybe I've mentioned this before, but there is now no longer any accommodation out-of-sync problem.  That seems to have vanished with the contacts. When I got the contacts initially it was difficult to turn the left and right side of my head forward in turns without the left side becoming blurry.  But now that doesn't really happen.

The most exciting part is that the double vision is really diminishing when I make the turning movement when looking into the light tube.  Normally when I would tilt the right side of my face forward, the left eye image would drop down, and when I would turn it back, it would go up.  But now it's much, much less.  Yesterday, near the end of the workout, I was nearly able to maintain a perfectly single view of the scene while moving.  It was quite exhilarating.  I played some Tomb Raider in stereo and I noticed the depth effects were quite a bit stronger.  So it'll be interesting to see how far this takes me.  Day by day.

Friday, November 15, 2013

#153 session

My vision is steadily improving, and all exercises are indicating the improvement.  I could be a few months away, but it's meaningless for me to say that since I've said it in the past.  It's the best guess I can make.  But Bouncy is looking great, and so are the other exercises.

In the past few days I've been becoming especially conscious about the way that I look at things.  Normally when I look at things, I consciously look with my right eye and I shut off the left eye.  I've been becoming particularly sensitive about the way that it feels when I engage the lazy eye and when I disengage the lazy eye.  When I am doing work or something that requires my attention, I sort of have to look at things in this  way because it takes too much work to look at the object the correct way and pay attention to what I'm doing.

But today when I was walking down a trail, it occurred to me that I am on my first steps to making the correct way to look at things my natural automatic way, because it became very obvious when I would look at things the incorrect way.  When I do that, I sort of flagellate myself, and then correct it.

I wonder whether the improvement I'm making is a result of the contact lenses that I have put in or if it's just a coincidence.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

#147 session: contacts

I think these contacts that I just got will likely be helpful.  I've only used them for a few days now.  Now I think I have a good grasp on the technique for taking them in and out.  There were a few things that made it difficult for me: I have small eyes, and I have strabismus, so that makes it difficult to get the lens and and judge the depth as I stick the lens on the eyeball.

It is my perception that I see more depth immediately after I put the contact lenses on.  Last week when I had them on for a day, I seemed to have made good progress, but then it lazed down when I didn't put them back in.  So I'm guessing and hoping that this is what needs doing.

Another thing I notice is that my esotropia does go down a little bit when I have the contacts in.  I've always had that persistent esotropia.  But I think this correction might help get rid of it once and for all.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

#143 session

Things have improved markedly since last time.  I know that I've said this before, but now it's especially true.  I'm experiencing something like stereopsis right now and it's great, and it's amazing to think that it's only going to be greater as motor control increases and as suppression decreases.  I should qualify that by saying it's obviously a 'low-resolution' stereopsis since I'm not fusing.  If I were fusing, I wouldn't be seeing an extra copy of letters on the screen as I type this.

It's interesting.  I've actually experienced my vision improve quite a bit in the past week even though I've taken off several days.  But I should say that I have been playing games in stereo 3d a bit extensively.  I do believe playing games in stereo 3d can be a good practice for stereopsis.  Maybe this means that I shouldn't have been working so hard and so obsessively.

Regardless... I think I discovered the last exercise technique I'm going to have to learn until I fuse and gain full stereopsis.  It's that tilting the left and right side of the head toward the light  in the light tube, carefully controlling the speed so that I'm just able to maintain a singular view of the glowing circle.  It feels like that's it.  I've already seen improvement--significant improvement--since a few weeks ago that I discovered it.  The idea now is to keep going at it so that I've be able to maintain a singular view of the glowing circle regardless of how quickly I turn my head.

That might be the most important exercise I'm doing right now.  I think I'll probably cut down on Columns to five minutes, Bouncy five minutes, saccades five minutes, and tilting light tube for 20 minutes.  That's only a 35 minute VT workout, but it's probably better that way... and I'm probably going to take more days off.

#137 session

This is out of order since I accidentally posted it to a different blog.

Quick update.  Things are definitely moving along.  I'm noticing now that when I move my eyes to a target, they're both landing there pretty much automatically.  Now it's just a matter of hardening it down, getting rid of the preference of the right eye, and fusing.

One of the exercises that's looking really good is Bouncy.  The hypertropia is almost gone completely from that exercise.  Saccades is great as well.  There is still some lag when I try to get the right posture with the left eye when looking at the clown at the lower right-hand side of the screen.  Other than that, it's great.

I guess that's another value of having multiple difference exercises to do: you may not always notice improvement in the same exercise every day or so, but if you do multiple exercises, you're more likely to notice change in at least one of those exercises.  That gives you good feedback and a psychological boost.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

#142 session-ish

I haven't done exercises yet today, and I didn't do them yesterday.  I'm finding that it's good to take a day break every once in a while.

I got my contact lenses.  My eyes are all red and bothered as a result of my inexperience with taking them in and out.  When the doctor put the contacts in I immediately noticed more depth.  It's hard to say whether it was real or the power of suggestion.  I think it was probably real.  It was a small amount of correction.  Supposedly I have a small astigmatism on the left eye and some myopia on the right eye, but the doctor says it's so small that he said I don't even need the contacts.  I told him that I wanted them anyway.  Whatever small refractive error I can have fixed, I want it fixed so to make fusion simpler.

I have noticed some substantial progress since I've had the contacts even though I've only worn them for a day.  I'm taking a break for my eyes until the inflammation goes down.

What is there to say about my actual vision?  I'm noticing that my eyes are automatically landing where they should--both of them.  I'm noticing significantly less suppression.  Like when I look at individual objects.  Also--the depth is increasing.  I wish I could say more than that right now.