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Myopic Attention Disorder - Printable Version

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Myopic Attention Disorder - David - 07-10-2011

Myopic Attention Disorder
http//blog.iblindness.org/2011-07/myopic-attention-disorder/

I see myopia as a specific type of attention disorder. I feel like Bates and later writers on vision improvement have not given enough credit to the factor of attention in causing blurry vision and related disorders, or they haven't spelled it out well enough.

People with myopia don't pay attention to what they're looking at. The mentality here is they want an entire area to be clear, all at once, so that they can pick and choose what to look at, at their convenience, and maybe not really look at anything. By that last bit I mean that when you are not looking at something in detail, searching for the smallest bits of detail you can find in it, you are not really looking at anything; you're just pointing your eyes around without being an active and interested participant in the process. So it should not be a surprise that the quality of your vision should continue to suffer when you are rarely using it.

Your mental process of seeing has become so at odds with your eyes. Your mind is not congruent to your physical body. You want to see things clearly when you look at them, or you wouldn't be reading this and trying to improve your vision, but the actions you take in every moment with your eyes do not reflect that desire to see. So your eyes and mind have gotten so far separated that you need to work to get them back into congruency. Being as your eyes are the part that have fallen behind and are no longer putting in the effort to move and focus like they should, you need to bring them up to speed. But working with your eyes directly doesn't work too well, or solving the situation would be just a matter of wiggling your eyes around a whole bunch to kind of jump-start them and get them running at the speed of your mind. Let's look at that for a moment.

While you can get some kind of rough control over your eyes by moving them directly, doing so doesn't serve you very well if you aren't paying attention. An example of this would be how in the Bates method some people get the idea that they should be moving their eyes all the time, to the point that they move their eyes around to keep bouncing around at things that they really have no desire to look at and they don't really pay attention to the individual points in the process.

However, what you'll find is that if you work with your attention, your eyes are heavily linked to it. This is proven by the simple fact that your eyes point to what you move your visual attention to. When you look at something, you don't have to steer your eyes around to get them to point at it. You don't say, "Ok, I'm paying attention to this, now I need to point my eyes towards it." It already happens immediately. So my point is that visual attention and the way the eyes behave are very much synonymous. When you work with your attention and let your attention direct things in the right way, it brings the eyes and mind back into congruency, and it becomes apparent that there was nothing at all wrong with your eyes; they didn't give up or stop being able to work; they just weren't given the right instructions in the right way.

In maybe my next post I'm going to describe my current best judgement on what is the best pattern of looking at things as far as making large and small shifts of attention (corresponding to large and small movements of the eyes) to promote the clearest vision.


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - Mzero - 07-11-2011

One belief is that in order to pay attention you have to hold it like you would hold a button. Instead you can give it little bursts of attention. One at a time.


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - kalina - 07-11-2011

I noticed that when I look directly at something which is blurry, after 2-3 seconds the image clears a bit.Does it have something in common with attention or it's just a normal process of focusing?


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - RB120 - 07-11-2011

kalina Wrote:I noticed that when I look directly at something which is blurry, after 2-3 seconds the image clears a bit.Does it have something in common with attention or it's just a normal process of focusing?

I am curious about that too. When I look at a blurry line on an eye chart. All it takes is a few seconds of looking directly at it (or a small point, with maybe some small shifts), and that blurry line starts to become more comprehensible/readable.


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - Nini - 07-12-2011

Since I am no more wearing my contact lenses, I have discovered a lot of things on my daily bicycle tours which I never noticed before - probably because I have to look at small details if I want to see more clearly. When I now walk with other people, I quite often see things before anybody else - although I am the only one without clear eyesight...

I've been asking myself - ever since I started my eye-training - what has changed in my way to look at things when I started to become myopic at the age of 10/11. As this is an age, where a lot of changes occur in life, I'm not sure whether it is really directly connected with the eyes. But in some regards, I feel, that I have gone further than most people I know.

The most important thing is: I lost the 'directness of the experience' for the sake of analyzing and evaluating every 'input', so that everything could be controlled, to prevent that something unforeseen might endanger my not yet stabilized life situation. At the same time I felt (and was more and more held by others) to be responsible for what was happening - so control was even more necessary.
All this put me further away from the experience itself and introduced some instance of awareness and mental control which dominated the whole process and prevented more and more the the simple enjoying of a situation, getting totally absorbed and 'lost' in the momentary event as a child can do so easily.

Of course it is impossible to turn back time and remove the awareness, but we can go one step further and become aware of what's going wrong and try to correct. Maybe it is not the same 'disorder' for everybody. I principally have to draw back the over-dominant mental control in the seeing process which consumes the most part of energy and attention, to attach more significance to the way things are here and now, let the spell of the direct experience capture me by its fascination - instead of reflecting how things should be according to my expectation in agreement with my pattern of life, how I can arrange everything and keep it under control.


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - Pikachu - 07-12-2011

RB120 Wrote:
kalina Wrote:I noticed that when I look directly at something which is blurry, after 2-3 seconds the image clears a bit.Does it have something in common with attention or it's just a normal process of focusing?

I am curious about that too. When I look at a blurry line on an eye chart. All it takes is a few seconds of looking directly at it (or a small point, with maybe some small shifts), and that blurry line starts to become more comprehensible/readable.

Though I'm no expert on the matter, this sounds a lot like stuff David has been mentioning over the past few months. Often times, we don't pay attention to what we are looking at, and so, we don't notice the details.

Another explanation is that we have the eccentric fixation tendency and look at things that aren't in the center of our visual fields. By paying attention to the center, we practice central fixation.

Just my two cents. Smile


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - David - 07-12-2011

Pikachu Wrote:
RB120 Wrote:
kalina Wrote:I noticed that when I look directly at something which is blurry, after 2-3 seconds the image clears a bit.Does it have something in common with attention or it's just a normal process of focusing?

I am curious about that too. When I look at a blurry line on an eye chart. All it takes is a few seconds of looking directly at it (or a small point, with maybe some small shifts), and that blurry line starts to become more comprehensible/readable.

Though I'm no expert on the matter, this sounds a lot like stuff David has been mentioning over the past few months. Often times, we don't pay attention to what we are looking at, and so, we don't notice the details.

Another explanation is that we have the eccentric fixation tendency and look at things that aren't in the center of our visual fields. By paying attention to the center, we practice central fixation.

Just my two cents. Smile

I think that's the case too. Even just a short moment of looking at something small in the way you're doing is enough to show an improvement. You can think of your vision as improved every time you look at a detail more closely that you were kind of looking in the general direction of but didn't actually look at until now. It doesn't have to be more focused, or clearer, for your vision to be better, so don't get hung up on judging your vision by how focused the image appears to be compared to a moment ago. Judge it by what details you can perceive in what you're looking at that you didn't notice before. Every little thing matters. Eventually of course the focus needs to improve too, and that should happen in short clear flashes at first. But the order these things happens in I think generally is the reverse of what people tend to think. People want the image to be clear so that they can look at things. But really you need to look at things better, and in using the visual system better you're encouraging it to properly focus the image. It takes determination, having to keep looking at things that aren't clear and forcing yourself to notice every little thing you can, constantly, without getting discouraged by the fact that a person with good vision can just look at it and it's already clear. It's about not fighting your eyes in their focus and doing the best you can in using your visual perception fully, for your part, with what it is right now, while putting a lot of trust in the idea that it's going to pay off with better focused vision before long.


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - otto - 07-14-2011

Another remarkable, insightful, crystal clear essay. Dude, I hope you are writing a book on this stuff. Forget the Bates Haters and put it out there!


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - maackle - 07-15-2011

Excellent essay! I started seeing more clearly while I was reading it Smile


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - JMartinC4 - 07-18-2011

Agreed. It's about developing or re-developing normal eye habits, normal head and body movements, normal positioning, normal breathing, normal blinking, normal tearfilms, normal facial stress, normal better-eye dominance - things which came unhinged or got out of whack or became stunted for various and unknown reasons when most of us were pre-teens or pre-adults and still maturing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, resulting in abnormally nearpoint-fixated eyesight. The visual system is out of whack and needs to catch up with and be brought back to same-stage development as the rest of our 'systems'. Development takes time. It varies for each individual. But there are probably some stages or phases to the development - keep looking for your own.
Maybe it's as if we somehow have a sticky brake on the left/front or right/rear wheel (or both) of our imaginary visual bicycle. Or maybe the wheels need realigning. Or the gearshift needs adjusting. Or one or both wheels have too much air or too little. Or the chain needs oil. Or ... We can't see any of these parts, but we can experience them when they're working correctly (clear flashes). Maybe we need to take the training wheels off. Maybe we need to increase the size of our imaginary bike to match up with the increased size of our other systems... It's a good analogy.


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - sean - 07-18-2011

Excellent observations, David, and your follow-up post above even more so.

A couple of weeks ago I tried getting from about 4pm to bed time without 'losing the thread' as it were (I mentioned it to Nancy on her blog at the time - she had mentioned something similar when multi-tasking), keeping my attention on detail and refusing to let myself be derailed. This was particularly difficult on a couple of occasions esepcially when I was looking for things in our dark kitchen and the temptation was to bulldoze my way through in my old style. The visual clarity was above the usual throughout. I had been wondering if it was the maintenance of a connection to what I was looking at, the visual engagement, that was the most important thing, or at least as important as the searching for detail per se (not that it's easy to separate the two when you think about it of course). When I say 'engagement' it's nothing mysterious, just continuing to look, avoiding switching off.

The next day it was hard to get back into the saddle, but I was expecting this by now as your mind, or your habits, doesn't give in that easily.

The closest comparison I can think of is many years ago going on a friend's "stag do" over a weekend (he was getting married soon after) and getting drunk and tired. I would be in the conversation and then find myself drifting off and then a minute or two later I'd be clear again and back in the conversation again. The others were doing much the same, so I doubt much got discussed. Allowing yourself to drift off from (relative) clarity and falling into strain is something similar. In its own way it's like a form of insanity, if that's not over-stating it. I suppose it is overdoing it. What's a better word. Ah yes, disorder. Smile

I haven't read Bates closely but I don't recall him saying much about attention. I'll have to have another look.

I would be great if someone else were to try this out and confirm my own experience.


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - sean - 07-18-2011

I meant to add that I was also trying to keep up the idea of imagining a tiny point every time I blinked, as David had recommended. I could do this in bursts, when I wasn't doing anything demanding, say when just walking along the road.

So there were three elements: looking at detail, not letting the thread get broken, and imagining a tiny point straight after blinks. Maybe interacting, maybe one of them more important than the others.

A strange thing about imagining a point after blinking is how difficult this can be sometimes. I mean, how are you supposed to do that? Where do you imagine the point? How do you actually, you know, do it? etc Yes, sometimes it's really hard. That's seriously amusing when you think about it.

I was thinking about something similar today: remembering or imagining a simple image. My mind is always putting obstacles in the way, probably because it knows that if it doesn't the game is up. You don't have to do anything to remember or imagine, in fact the mind keeps throwing up thoughts to put you off the track. But then I have done it many times and know I can do it. It seems to be a case of insisting on allowing yourself. You don't force yourself but force yourself to allow yourself. Just thinking aloud here. Is there an easier way?


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - Nancy - 07-18-2011

Sean, something along this line which continues to help me (when I remember it!) is to see everything in my world as made up of pixels, and to only look at one (imaginary) pixel at a time. Who said computer screens were bad for your vision? David gets the credit for introducing this idea to me, but I don't remember if it was in some random post or his introductory material. Practice on the pixels!


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - Pikachu - 07-18-2011

Another interesting thought about remembering a point is that Bates discussed it at length in his book. Pretty much, he said that the strained eye cannot remember a black period, so how well you can imagine this little point might be an indicator of how strained your eye might be at a given point in time.


Re: Myopic Attention Disorder - Mzero - 07-19-2011

Nothing to it but to do it.

Quote out of Need for Speed Carbon.