Friday, December 30, 2016

Steady progress

Seems like I slowed down in the past week or so.  For a while there it seemed like progress was occurring extremely quickly.

To be clear, I still think I am making rather smooth progress.  It is just that the perceived improvement isn't always so smooth.  That is one of the benefits of doing so many different exercises.  Vision therapy exercises, almost by definition, provide you a meter with which to gauge progress.  Having a variety of different gauges is very beneficial for letting you know whether you are truly stuck, or just having a poopy day.

Actually all of my gauges are pointing to smooth incremental improvement.  The prisms and fixation cards.  Check.  I'm now vacillating between two diopter prism and no prism.  I'm still working with that technique that I talked about before with getting good accommodation on the right eye, and focusing on fixation with the left.

I am noticing improvement about every day.  It is a very incremental thing.  Every day it takes less time to get equal acccommodation across the eyes.  I've been experimenting with different 'fuse' 'focus' sets, from the bottom, to the bottom middle, to the top middle.  I doubt I'll ever be able to fuse the top set because I think that would require going exotropic.  I'm fairly certain that my eyes are straightening out, steadily.

I've been noticing this in particular with my modified Brock String.  Diverging out to the last string has always been--not necessarily a pain in the ass--but it always required effort.  Now it's pretty easy.  In fact, going from each bead to the other has become very--quite--easy.  Also moving the bead around my entire field of vision is seeing improvement.  The distance between the double beads is getting smaller and smaller.  Yeah, I keep saying that.  But it's true.

Finally--oh yeah, I can't talk about Vivid Vision.  I am working on it.  It is software for people with strabismus.  It, like other vision training, provides feedback.  I'm seeing improvement in that as well.  Alright.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

More progress with stuff

More progress with fixation cards and prisms, columns, modified Brock String, and Vivid Vision.

Quite a bit more.

Last entry I talked a bit about how I was doing fixation cards exercises with four diopter prisms and sometimes removing the prism altogether.

I wasn't quite ready for removing the prism altogether.  I was ready for a reduction of prism.
Currently I'm ... and this is really fascinating to observe for myself.  Currently, I'm sort of alternating between two diopter prism and no prism when doing fixation card exercises.  About two minutes in I stop using the prism, and then go without.  Sometimes I put it back in.  But day after day I notice that I need prism less and less.  It is fucking awesome to see.  I don't know how the visual system works, but I know how to interact with it.  I know how to improve it.

Today I used the two diopter prism maybe for total of two minutes during the fixation cards exercise.  I could tell that it was a productive session, and I was able to fix both eyes for a good part of it.

One thing I want to say that has been really helpful was this technique I developed a while back, in which I would focus on getting perfect accommodation on my right eye, and then pay attention to fixing with the left eye.  There was a sort of stickiness to the accommodation on the right eye, so it would stay accommodated, while fixing with the left eye.  This, I believe, was helping me override the accommodation reflex and force simultaneous accommodation.  But more than that, it gave me feedback which told me what good binocular posture feels like.  I've been using those feelings to use in my everyday experience.  So it's sort of become a reinforcing habit.  In a way, I feel like I'm now building and reinforcing binocular vision skills even when I'm not technically doing vision therapy.   I'm gaining stereopsis without vision therapy.  It's become a self-reinforcing thing.  It feels like that.

Anyway, Brock String was freaking awesome.  The double image beads are so close to each other.  Divergence and convergence are getting very easy.  I'm noticing this ability everywhere now.

As mentioned in previous entries, I cannot talk about the Vivid Vision stuff too much.  But I'm doing it every day.  I think it's part of what's helping.  I think it's going to be very useful software for many people.  I was sort of pissed off when I heard that the software is going to only be available to be administered as part of a program with vision therapists.  But now I 100% understand their decision to do it this way.  It's not a liability thing.  It is because guidance is needed in this sort of enterprise.  And Vivid Vision is going to be a very powerful and useful tool in the vision therapy toolkit.

What else... uhhh,  Doom 3 BFG Edition.  Holy crap.

Not really sure what Doom 3 BFG Edition is.  It's something about making Doom 3 work better with 3d.  But someone made a Vive mod for it.  And it's fucking awesome.  If you have a Vive, you need to get Doom 3 BFG and then mod it for the Vive.  It is one of the best games for the Vive, period.  It costs like $4.

It's sort of funny because the game is 13 years old, so it's made to run on 13-year old graphics cards, so it runs incredibly well on the Vive.  It's weird because it's hard to imagine playing a normal WASD FPS-type game with two hand-held motion controls.  But the modders made it work.  Very well.  The quality of the game really comes through, and even though it's 13 years old, it feels like the game is made for VR.  And like I said, not just like any VR game, but a really good VR game.  I've yet to encounter any bugs.  Everything works very well.  The graphics are great.  And it's really scary.  Because everything is in stereo 3d, and very high quality with no glitches, it's sort of like playing Doom 3 for the very first time, but in a way that's waaaayyy better and more immersive than any prior experience of Doom 3.  It's just awesome.  And it's $4.

What is vision therapy like?

Imagine playing the hardest video game ever made.  You've never played the game before.  The tutorials for the game are in a different language.  You have to create the controller with your mind.

That should give you a rough idea of what you're dealing with when doing vision therapy as an adult.  Perhaps the most challenging aspect of vision therapy is knowing whether you're actually doing it effectively.

In the past month or so I've become increasingly confident that I am in fact doing vision therapy.  I have gotten to the point where I am doing a particular thing in an exercise and I can say with reasonable confidence 'this is helping me gain stereo vision.  I will notice the effects of what I am doing in this moment later on.'.  I have become intimate with my visual system, and fluent in vision therapy.  I have finally built my controller, and I am now able to really play the game.  And goddamn, it feels good.

It reminds me of something that Susan Barry said in a Vivid Vision Spotlights podcast.  She was talking about how important it is in vision therapy for the student to have a sense of ownership of the process, to actively see changes which result from the exercises he is doing, and to experience the  control he has over the outcome.  Beyond all of the awesomeness involving stereo vision, she was talking about how empowering it is to be able to radically change your experience of life via hard work and diligence via vision therapy.  I already liked Susan Barry a lot, but after listening to those podcasts... man, she's just great.  Super awesome person.

I don't yet have stereo vision.  But I am now at a point at which I can see the connection between my exercises and the changes in my vision so vividly.  It is already very rewarding.  The changes are happening so quickly.  My grasp on how to do vision therapy has improved so much.  It's a very exciting time for me.

Alright, I'm going to do a separate entry for what's actually going on.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Making good progress with fixation cards, Brock String and Vivid Vision

Making good progress.  I've become very sensitive to change, and I can see changes occurring with objective metrics.  So even though I'm noticing changes on a near daily basis, I can tell there is quite a bit more work to do, because I know that every step I take is going to be deliberate painstaking work.

I'm still making progress with the fixation cards.  As of now, I start with attempting to fuse with a four diopter prism.  Then about four minutes in, I try without any prism.  Sometimes I put it back in.  I've noticed huge changes in my ability to get both eyes to accommodate in near synchrony.  Still no depth the fixation cards.  

Brock String is still doing really well.  The double images are still getting closer to one another, even in the trouble areas.  

In addition to Fixation cards, columns, and Brock String, I've begun to work with Vivid Vision.  I signed an NDA so I cannot talk about it, but I'm helping them test and debug some of the software.  I think it might be helping my vision in addition to the other vision therapy exercises I'm doing.

My last conscious hour every day in the past week has been reading this new book that I'd heard about from James Altucher's podcast.  It's called Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.  

It was written by a guy who holds the record for having the most Swedish-sounding name ever: Anders Ericsson.  It's a pretty cool book.  The central thesis of the book is that we can create our potential, and we can create talent.  This is in contrast to the view that genes determine our potential, and it's up to us as to whether we fulfill that potential.  

To me, that idea sounds a little confusing at the outset--that we can create our potential.  I think maybe a more accurate and less confusing way of putting it is that ordinary people have much more potential than we realize.  And whether that potential is realized depends a lot on the quality of training techniques that are implemented.  

In the book he talks a lot about the idea of deliberate practice, which--I'm not going to get into it, but it's a much more focused and active kind of practice.  Constantly probing for where you're weak, thinking about what you're doing, and what may need to be done, or stripped away.  It's active and deliberate.  He compared this to the ordinary way in which people learn, which is that people pick something up, and get to the point where they're 'good enough', and then they stop improving, and keep doing what they're doing, because there's no apparent reason to.  They're 'good enough'.  

Well, that really struck a chord with me, because this 'deliberate practice' is exactly what I'm been doing with vision therapy, particularly in the past few months.  In fact, thinking about thinking, and thinking about learning, has been something that I only really started doing sometime around 30 years old, and it's had tremendously beneficial effects on me, in all aspects of life.  It has definitely coincided with the improvement in the quality of my life.  

But anyway... cool book so far.  Very, extremely relevant to people who are doing vision therapy as adults.