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?


  1. I'm super excited about Diplopia (the game, not the condition!) but in the AMA he did on reddit, I think James said that although his eyes were aligned, he didn't really recover full stereopsis yet. Do you know if that has changed?

    1. I think he said that he does have stereo vision, if I remember right, but he's not able to resolve hidden autostereograms. But not being able to do those doesn't preclude you from having stereoscopic vision. Being *able* to resolve hidden autostereograms *does* preclude you from having stereoblindness. You must have stereo vision in order to see those. But I imagine that for some individuals who have stereo vision it's tricky to resolve those. It requires some finagling of the eyes to do it, even if you have fully functional eyes.