Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Subjective experience caught up quite a bit with game metrics

I noticed a very substantial change in my vision today.  It was my second day off from vision therapy, so my eyes had some time to rest.  It's hard to put it in words, but the double images are coming closer together.  Objects are beginning to appear vivid.  The stereo cues are getting much stronger.  I'm noticing 'layers' more.  Particularly when I was driving my car.  I notice the dash in front of me, the rear-view mirror, and of course the cars ahead of me.  They're all there in their own layers, and I'm aware of all of them simultaneously.  What a trip.

I'd heard people talk about experiencing depth in layers before they recovered full stereopsis.  So that's exciting.  It's sort of funny.  I was looking at my scores in that game the other day and was impressed at how the numbers were going up in such a rapid and steady incline, but I didn't notice much in perception.  But I knew that if I was indeed perceiving depth better and better in the game as indicated by my improving score that the improvement should soon translate into improved depth perception in everyday life.  And indeed, there it is.  Wow!  Cool.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tracking Bubbles progress

This will be a brief entry.  In short, things seem to be improving.  Improvement isn't obvious in anyway except in the game.  I am definitely getting some stereo effects, and have for a long time, but I seem to be noticing the stereo effects with greater frequency in the game in the past few weeks.

Are there any data to support why this might be the case?  Indeed there are.  I've been doing 30 minute workouts five times a week.  After I manage to put on the +1 reading glasses, the electrodes, the HMD, and earphones, I yell at Alexa and tell her to set the timer for thirty minutes.  After the thirty minutes are up, I write down the score.  Almost every day the score has improved by a non-trivial amount.  Here it is.


Dr. Tran said that I should do the exercise at least five times a week.  I decided that these two days off are probably a very good idea.  That's why there is nothing on the 21st and 22nd.  
Here's what that looks like plotted out.  Doesn't look like much, but it should look more interesting as time goes on.  I have to say, I am impressed at how quickly things seem to be moving along with this protocol.  Hopefully this slope continues course.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A few weeks in with Bubbles

It's been a few weeks so far with the new regimen.  To be clear, here's what I'm doing.

  • 30 minute session of the Vivid Vision game Bubbles.  
  • I do that game five times a week while wearing +1 reading glasses that I bought from Amazon.
  • I do that while undergoing tDCS with the cathode on the neck and anodes on o1 and o2. 
  • Before I begin the session there is a vision test called Angles, whose purpose is, as you might guess, to determine the angle of your deviation.  Dr. Tran told me that this information is used by the game in order to allow you to fuse, and to sort of gracefully emulate the function of a prism in software.  The game knows what your angle should be (none), but this test tells the game what your angle is.  This way the game knows where to start while also gently guiding you to where you should be (having straight eyes).  
  • I am in the habit of standing on my head for around five minutes per day--sometimes immediately preceding vision therapy, sometimes not. 
  • That's it. 
 "That's it." doesn't really merit its own bullet point, but there it is.

What are my impressions so far?

I think it's improving my vision.  The first session I couldn't do more than five minutes without the strain becoming too much.  This, I attribute mostly to the hypertropia, and the effort it takes to avoid the diplopia which is a result of the hypertropia.

The hypertropia and esotropia (and thus diplopia) are still there, but they've gone way down.

An interesting thing that I've noticed about this regimen is that it doesn't seem to have gotten much easier even though my angle seems to improved.  It is steadily challenging.  I can't say that it's fun, because it is quite a bit of stress.  But at the same time my score is steadily improving (last time it was around 14,000--the time before it was 12,000).  That is, my ability to pick out which bubble is closest is improving.

Another significant thing is that I'm able to draw a connection between effort and reward.  I think that helps offset the 'not fun-ness' of the game.  And when I say it's not fun, I don't mean the game mechanics are bad or anything like that.  I just mean that where I am, the stress level of the game is pretty high--which is a good thing.  Not a complaint at all, if Dr. Tran or James are reading this.  If there's anything that I've learned about myself in this venture it's that I can make myself do all kinds of things that are painful, dreadful, boring and keep it up for a long time, if I've convinced myself that it's worth it.  I suspect that the reason why the game is steadily challenging is because, as I mentioned at the beginning of the entry, the game is adaptive.  It knows my angle, which is probably changing modestly every time I come into the game, and then nudges me closer and closer to zero deviation as I adapt.  It's extremely similar to what Ben did with stick-on prisms (achieving fusion and then over time decreasing the prism refraction), it's just that this is much more high tech and elegant (in my opinion).  That's why the game's not getting easier!  It's adapting to me.  Of course, that's also why this is probably the quickest possible path to recovery.

What else.  I seem to 'notice' 'depth' best when I'm not looking at anything in particular, and especially when the bubbles initially pop into the scene.  I think what's going to happen is that my deviation is going to continue to decrease, and there will be a point in which it will appear from a subjective standpoint that vision is suddenly improving very rapidly.  In fact, the improvement will have been steady, it's just the subjective experience of improvement will be different.  As Dr. Tran advised me, 'Let me know if you have any 'aha' moments'.  The deviation needs some time to close, and then I will say 'aha'.  And of course that won't be the end, but rather a very significant milestone.

Another thing--since I'd mentioned Ben earlier.  He seems to be doing very well.  He's no longer using prisms in his exercise.  I periodically get excited messages from him saying that he's getting 3d more and more.  Apparently he still has an angle but it's significantly less.  He now seems to be perennially cheerful and high-energy.  He says his reading still stinks, but he's not worried about it.  I remember a long time back he expressed anxiety about it, and what the consequences might be if he shuts off suppression and everything's not perfect.  But the worry appears to have been for naught.  Needless to say, I'm extremely happy for him.  That would be pretty cool if we both got it simultaneously.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Regimen switchup

As mentioned in previous entries, I'm now following a new protocol guided by Doctor Tran of Vivid Vision.  The prescription is to play the Bubbles game (and some other new game) for 30 minutes per day, five days a week while using plus one reading glasses.

I'd done this for around four times already. The first go around was a reminder of that game that I'd played a long time back but couldn't see any therapeutic value in.  But after I gave it some time I realized what a brutal workout it is, mainly because the game makes my hypertropia very obvious, so I'm putting in a lot of work on correcting it.

The first time I could barely play the game for five minutes before the discomfort/strain became too much.  The second time, I think it was fifteen minutes.  The fourth time I was able to put in the entire 30 minutes.  I took off yesterday.  Today I was about to do it, but my computer wouldn't turn on.  No nothing.  No fans, no lights, just one sole power light on the motherboard so that you can power it on without the jumpers.  Did some basic troubleshooting, thought it was the power supply, ran around the corner, picked up a new one, and tried again with the new power supply.  Still won't work.  There are only four components needed for the computer to power on.  Power supply, motherboard, CPU, and memory.  Not the power supply, unlikely the memory, since I already tried with one DIMM and trying a different slot.  So I was forced to go out and get a new motherboard.  Shit.  Hopefully it's the motherboard and not the CPU preventing the thing from kicking on.  Although that would be a good excuse for upgrading the computer.  I need it for vision therapy!

As far as progress goes, I think that the new regimen is causing rapid progress.  The hypertropia appears to have gone down substantially in just the few times that I'd done the vision therapy.   It leads me to believe that when you're doing the right things under the right guidance, progress in vision therapy should be extremely quick.  The reason I'd been doing vision therapy for over four years is because I am uneducated/didn't have the right guidance/didn't have the right technology.  It looks like that's over.  So we'll see.