Seeing 3D

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The richness of the visual depth experience is often a surprise for people who have worn eyeglasses for a long time, then start going without them. Glasses flatten depth. This means those who wear them need to compensate by using visual cues to depth, like that objects farther away will appear smaller. Yet they often are not seeing the depth, which can be overwhelming. A myopic friend who always wears her strong glasses, and knows I am interested in vision improvement, decided to take hers off briefly while she was driving on an empty highway bordered by woods. She was so startled by the abundant depth she saw in the trees at the side of the road, layer after layer, that she slammed her glasses back on immediately, almost frightened. It was too much and she wasn’t used to it!

A few years ago when I took a workshop with Peter Grunwald, the developer of the Eyebody Method of vision improvement, he emphasized the importance of noticing depth as people come out of a myopic pattern. In fact he said practicing seeing depth is one of the most important ways near-sighted folks can start stretching their vision easily into the distance. With this in mind, as it was winter here when I began seriously focusing on this practice, I spent a lot of time looking at the bare leafless trees, playing with “Is that branch closer, or is that one?”. This seemed like more fun than practicing with the flat eye chart, which was often a struggle for me and made me feel like I couldn’t see that well, like I was failing a test. Mother Nature felt much less judgemental.

When I take walks outside now, I consciously focus on seeing depth. If I’m not sure which object is farther away, I can tell by moving my head slightly so the view shifts. Try this yourself: when you move your gaze to the left, the scenery shifts to the right, the classic oppositional movement. And what is closer to you will “move” more than what is farther away! So I can use this to test my depth awareness, and am pleased to find my interpretation of which is closer and which farther away is usually correct.

Another place I practice seeing depth when I am outside is straight overhead, with the clouds. I had always assumed clouds were flat, if I thought about it at all, the way a child would draw them. One day I was glancing up at the clouds, just playing with seeing up since I always used to look downwards when I wore strong glasses. I was amazed when the depth in the clouds popped out at me, like looking at mountains of whipped cream! Now every time I’m outside I look up to enjoy the cloud mountain ranges, scanning the slopes.

When I first started working with a behavioral optometrist years ago to improve my vision, he wanted me to spend time with 3D pictures, those where you look beyond the page to create another image which isn’t obvious at first. I wasn’t able to see the Magic Eye pictures at all in the beginning, so had to practice with “training wheels” of red and green images which I looked at with special glasses with 2 different color lenses. Both my eyes could see (you do need 2-eyed vision for a stereoscopic effect) — my theory as to why I couldn’t see depth is that I had been trained out of it by all those decades in a strong prescription, the natural depth in my view squashed flat. When I could finally see the Magic Eye images, I was thrilled! I still order their wall calendar every year, but honestly, these images are much less exciting to me now that I’m seeing the true depth around me in the natural world all the time.

We are meant to see depth, as we are meant to see color, or movement, or shapes. One of the reasons babies are so fascinated by mobiles hanging over their cribs is the varying depths in that view, much more stimulating to the eyes and brain than a flat picture. Since I was put in glasses at such a young age, I’ve often thought that my vision improvement journey now is like that of a child learning to see her world for the first time, naturally, without my glasses in the way. As my vision continues to improve, the depth I see keeps getting deeper, which is very exciting to me. And I’m right in the middle of that world now, rather than walled off apart from it behind my glasses. I feel like I’m looking with my environment, rather than looking at it.

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Nancy
I wore strong glasses, then contact lenses, for most of my life, starting at age 5. While making many mistakes, eventually l learned how to improve the way I use my eyes and to see in a more relaxed, healthy manner. It is my pleasure to coach others to do the same. Visit me at http://NancyLNeff.com.
Nancy

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Nancy

Author: Nancy

I wore strong glasses, then contact lenses, for most of my life, starting at age 5. While making many mistakes, eventually l learned how to improve the way I use my eyes and to see in a more relaxed, healthy manner. It is my pleasure to coach others to do the same. Visit me at http://NancyLNeff.com.

6 thoughts on “Seeing 3D”

  1. Hey Nancy, good stuff!
    Be careful with the Magic Eye pictures. 2 people on iblindness, one myself developed a wandering eye and double vision from them. The pictures were in a very popular Natural Vision Improvement Teacher’s book so we thought it was safe. Teachers are now starting to warn of this. Cambridge Program for Better Vision teaches it in their book and one of their doctors reading close vision books but now they warn not to do it if there is any eye problems, usually slight strabismus, other conditions. Many teachers now say to not to do it unless you have strabismus and the Bates method has not helped the condition but even then it has to be done by an eye doctor expert in this type practice. I used the Bates method to return to normal vision, eye movement. The other guy used the Bates method and also had to go to a Behavioral Optometrist who told him to stay away from the magic eye stuff. The doctor had to apply a special, different type of Magic eye and other treatments to reverse the problems caused by magic eye pictures he found in a book.
    Clark Night

  2. Clark, thanks. The Magic Eye pictures were a stepping stone for me, nowhere near as thrilling as Nature’s depth. I think you can strain to see anything or you can look at it with relaxation.

    1. It’s a tough one to figure sometimes; Although I have met people and myself that developed problems from the Magic Eye 3-D pictures, and only the Bates Method alone would fix the problem for me; the Behavioral Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, ‘if you can find a good one’ have success curing Strabismus with a specific type of the 3-D. I have met 2 mothers, there children and one man so far that have been cured of Strabismus form the Optometrist using the 3-D. But is a specific way, different for each case. This is the problem Natural Vision teachers have; most eye doctors hide everything from us. Bates taught a interesting method in the Feb., 1929 Better Eyesight Magazine Issue. Seeing double candles… I have been re-reading, re-reading to get the exact procedure in my mind and compare to the eye docs, other teachers. Will then place it all along with other stuff in a strabismus pdf. Janet and Carina Goodrich teach the 3-D but it wont work right for me from anyone’s books. I stay away form it now and vision is ok.

      One thing I did like; In Martin Sussman’s Cambridge Institute for Better Vision book there’s a 3-D exercise (which I also no longer recommend after my experience with others) but it is interesting. Its done with 2 circles. I colored in the two circles; one read, the other blue. When I tried the 3-D thing in the past; when you get the 3rd circle, ‘an illusion of the 2 peripheral circles appearing to be in the central field’ by merging the 2 peripheral field circles; it seems to flash back and forth between red and blue, BUT; if you think red; only red appears. If you think blue, only blue appears. Weird huh? Try to figure why? Is it one brain hemisphere being dominant for the moment? The left and right sides of each eyes retina go to, cross to the left, right hemispheres. Both eyes see the peripheral red and blue circles. What is the mind?, visual system suppressing or dominating to make only the one color your thinking about appear? How do both eyes see only one side of the peripheral field; the side the color you are thinking about. IS that whats happening? how?
      Clark

    2. Clark, hi. Simplistically, I think someone can strain doing anything, including looking at Magic Eye pictures or something like the Three Cups. My unproven guess is that the people who have trouble with these techniques are the ones who strain while using them, and the ones who succeed have learned how to relax while looking at them.

      Very interesting about the red and blue circles. I’ll have to try that myself. Yes, what you focus on you see more of — buy a sliver car and suddenly you see silver cars everywhere. It also makes me think of eye witnesses being at the same scene and “seeing” radically different events. The mind is a huge player in vision. It’s not just a mechanical process of the eyes.

  3. Got this off Facebook from my cousin Weakie. It’s not the auto-strerogram 3-D so might be ok to try.
    Except for the staring part. I got the effect by just few seconds looking at black square with shifting on the square, no staring.

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