Monday, April 28, 2014

#318 session: good stuff

It's been another good week.  I had a particularly 'good eye day' on Sunday.

It's often said by vision therapists that it's a good idea to do vision therapy for about six days a week with a resting day.  I wonder if it's a good idea to have a resting day to allow for the eye to recover from the stimulation from the exercise.  I normally do vision therapy every day, without exception.  When I skip a day of VT as a result of being busy I feel guilty and lazy.  But I'm starting to think that taking a day off may actually be beneficial to making progress.

I spent the night at a friend's house on Friday *cough* and spent the next day recovering and doing other things.  So I skipped VT.  I also did some intermittent fasting and protein cycling on Saturday through Sunday.  I ate a small meal at 4pm on Saturday and only ate small snacks with no protein content for the next 24 hours.  By the end of the 24 hours I begin to feel a little dizzy.  Intermittent fasting and protein cycling is shown to trigger autophagy--it helps trigger the body to clean up unrecycled proteins in the cell.  There are a lot of health benefits from this, which is why I do it.

Sunday I noticed good changes.  In my experience, I think giving the body stress and different experiences helps with learning and changes in the brain.  My fasting, sleep deprivation, physical exertion, break from VT I think made a difference.  The experience of my vision was more intense, and I could tell that I was suppressing less with antisuppression Solitaire.

There was a conversation a while back in our DIY Vision Therapy group about yoga.  Someone mentioned that she noticed a connection with the quality of her vision on days when she did yoga.  She wanted to know whether anyone else had a similar experience.  Michael Lievens said that there's a scientific explanation for why this would be the case: yoga activates the body's parasympathetic nervous system, which can help with a whole slew of different body functions.

I think this is probably true of meditation as well.  I don't know of any hard evidence that 10-15 minutes of meditation would improve vision therapy results, but I suspect that it would.  There is building evidence that meditation is really, really good for one's mental health, and by extension, health in general.  It's been shown to increase brain mass and improve learning.  I've recently incorporated ten minutes of meditation in the morning regimen and can tell a very significant improvement in the quality of life that it engenders.  I know that it's only going to get better as I get better at meditation.  I'm going to stick with it.  It doesn't make sense to not meditate.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

#310 session: my vision is definitely improving

My vision has improved quite a bit in the past few weeks.  It seems as though at least once every week I have a particularly 'wow' day--when I've noticed a particular lot of new information coming into the eyes.  I think it was Tuesday last week.  I still have some very small hypertropia, but it seems to be diminishing rapidly.

My new regimen seems to be very effective--doing particular emphasis on Finger Monster, and antisuppression Solitaire.  When I move the finger monster across my visual field from left to right, I've mentioned before that there is a point where I make a distinct shift from one eye to another.  That shift is becoming less and less pronounced.  I try to pay a lot of attention to the way my eyes work as I move around the 'hot' zone where my brain tends to want to shift from one eye to another.  I do a lot of work in that area, so as to try and completely get rid of the shifting behavior.

This time around with doing antisuppression exercises I seem to know better how to do them.  A few years back I used to put in a crazy amount of time into antisuppression exercises like AS Tetris as well as bar reader exercises.  AS Solitaire is essentially the same type of exercise, but I now know how to do it, and I also now know what I'm seeing when I do it.

One of the issues which presents itself in AS Solitaire is the out-of-sync accommodation issue.  It's difficult to get each filtered eye to see its input clearly simultaneously.  There is still the dominance, and the non-dominant eye gets blurred out a little--even if I consciously choose to unsuppress it momentarily.

Now I know how to fix it.  Consciousness and attention are key.  I try to stay calm, focus through both eyes.  Sometimes I'll switch eyes so that I can have an idea of what 'sharp' means for the other eye, and then I'll try to change back to focusing with both eyes.  When I do this what I'm essentially doing is overriding my accommodation reflex, trying to get it to accommodate in the right way so that I'm able to focus with both eyes simultaneously while looking at the same spot in space.

This can be done.  People do this all the time when doing those Magic Eye hidden autostereograms.  They are overriding their accommodation reflex: accommodating their eyes on the page, while diverging their eyes pointing at a spot in space which is behind the book.  Now that I know that's essentially what I'm doing when I try to unsuppress for antisuppression Solitaire, it makes a significant difference.  If I'm not able to accommodate both eyes while looking at the same spot in space, then there will be a corresponding lack of attention on the input of the non-accommodating eye.  That lack of attention will correspond to continued suppression.  So moving forward will mean tuning my accommodation reflex by overriding its natural tendencies.  This relatively new understanding (3-4 months now), I believe, is responsible for the very recent improvement in my vision.

Monday, April 14, 2014

#305 session

I had a really good eye day one of those days last week.  I'm still plugging away--every day.  I'm doing 15 minutes of tracking finger monster and five minutes of clown saccades under stimulation.  I'm doing another 15 minutes of antisuppression solitaire with some Metro 2033.  Every day.  My eyes are becoming aligned.  It seems progress has sped up.  There's not a whole lot to report.  Hopefully there will be more soon.

Monday, April 7, 2014

#298 session: successful experiment

That experiment with taking the week off from Syntonics and just doing the finger monster exercise, saccades, anti-suppression Solitaire, and Metro 2033: Last Light in stereo 3d seemed to have paid off.  The improvements are very obvious.  I am going to run with the experiment for another week to see where it puts me.

But yes, all progress metrics that I use are pointing in a positive direction.  The double images (my left feet) are continually moving towards one another.  Suppression has gone down significantly.  Playing anti-suppression Solitaire has gotten quite a bit easier, and I'm noticing more luster.

One of the interesting things I'm noticing with the finger monster exercise is this: when I track from the right side to the left side, and finally to the extreme left (so that only my left eye can see) there is a point where I make a distinct shift from one eye to another.  It is when I make the shift that I am definitely looking with the left eye, as opposed to with the right eye.

Since I've started doing this exercise I noticed that the shifting has changed a bit.  The change from one eye to another, while it's still there, is not as distinct.  My attention sort of flows gradually from one eye to another until I'm actually focusing with the eye that's closer to the monster.  It's interesting to notice.  I try to play around a lot with that shifting area and I try to stretch it so that both eyes are always on.

I do realize what I'm doing when I do this.  I'm making it very difficult for my suppressing eye to ignore the input by putting it so close.  I'm basically not giving my visual system a choice but to use the eye, and then allowing it to integrate with the other eye by moving the monster back into the range of the other eye.

This idea of giving the suppressing eye an extra powerful stimulus is a way to recover stereopsis.  This is the idea of the visual therapy implemented in this study.  They give the subject a noise channel (random arrows) on the fixing eye and a signal channel (arrows moving in a single direction) on the suppressing eye.  They then increase the contrast of the signal channel to such a high degree that the suppressing eye can no longer ignore the input.  The suppressing eye, over time, becomes more sensitive to the signal, and the researchers can bring the contrast down.  At that point the subject will have functional stereopsis.  This has been shown to be a very effective therapy.

This principle is applied to the game Diplopia by James Blaha.  James Blaha was an amblyope who fixed his vision with Diplopia.  The game uses an Oculus Rift, which provides each eye with different input.  The game forces you to use both eyes.  Presumably you program into it which eye is your suppressing eye, and then the game gives that eye an extra powerful signal, preventing the suppressing eye from ignoring the input.

It's pretty amazing to think he
  1. Understood the principles involved in stereopsis recovery and was able to translate those principles into creating a game to fix stereoblindness.
  2. Recovered stereopsis on his own with technology of his own making. 
  3. Is now working with eye doctors to make this game available to the public.
I'm pumped about it.  It's exciting to think that we may soon have really good tools for fixing this condition.  It just sucks that I wasted so much time experimenting with different vision therapy methods which could have been used on other things.  Oh well.

It's hard to not like the guy, eh?