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Notes on my vision re-education progress
#1
This is not a story about complete recovery. I do believe I have experienced some recovery in my vision, but it has a long way to go. I would still like to share some of my observations and methods in case it helps someone. This is my first post so it's not short.

First, a bit about my vision. I am in my early 30's and have had myopia and some astigmatism nearly my entire life. I know I was given my first glasses at a very young age, possibly pre-school. I don't remember the details, because I have very poor long-term memory. I do however have good short-term memory which helped me achieve good grades in school. Mention of the correlation between poor memory, poor imagination, and poor vision was one of the factors that drew me so strongly to Bates, along with my lifelong unspoken thought, based on my fascination with evolution and biology from a young age, that it just made no sense that such a high proportion of our population would suffer from such a severe untreatable structural deformity purely as an inevitable consequence of our genes.

I started reading about the Bates method on my own a few months ago and immediately started wearing my glasses as little as possible. Because of my strong correction (-7.75 OD -7 OS) and need to continue functioning in daily life tasks, completely discarding them was not an option.

Next, I got an eye exam from a conventional optometrist for 20/40 "driving/computer" glasses. Although this exam was only a few weeks into my new habit of reduced-glasses-wearing, the 20/20 prescription for my right eye improved by 0.5 to -7.25, which was encouraging. This was the same optometrist who gave me my last prescription over two years ago, so this change in prescription cannot be dismissed as a change in measurement technique. Also, since prescriptions tend to get stronger over time, I suspect that if I had not started vision improvement before the eye exam then most likely I would have walked out with a stronger instead of weaker prescription. I got the 20/40 prescription (-6.25 OD -6 OS) lenses made instead of the 20/20, and that is now what I use when I need glasses.

My next task was to figure out whether I could eliminate my need to wear glasses for computer work, since it is required for a majority of my professional tasks. I decided to try pinhole glasses for this, although I'm aware that there is some controversy about whether they are beneficial. I have found that by using pinhole glasses with a large monitor at a desk and a reduced desktop resolution, I can use a computer effectively, although less efficiently that I used to. Also when I just need to read something I use my iPad instead of the computer because I can read at close range easily without pinhole glasses. Unfortunately sometimes I have to work on my laptop and I need glasses for that.

In case you think it is not possible to go without glasses in modern daily life, here are some of the activities that I, a person with strong nearsightedness, regularly do without a vision correction device: taking the public bus, jaywalking across busy urban streets, household chores like cooking and cleaning dishes, grocery shopping, eating out at restaurants, hiking in nature. When navigating around the city by foot or bus, sometimes I have to use a "safe squint" to read street signs or bus numbers. I do this by covering one eye with one hand, and with the other hand I make a tiny opening by curling my index finger and thumb to look through with the uncovered eye. I also glance at my smartphone occasionally to see where I am on the map or the bus schedule.

I do find it heartbreaking to go on a nice walk and not be able to see the beautiful views, but I believe that this short term decrease in quality of life is outweighed by all the natural light and visual stimulation that I get from using my naked eyes in a relaxed and attentive/curious manner in natural settings.

On my very first outing without glasses, to a busy farmers market, I simply observed my vision without judgement. The most striking observation was that colors were much more vibrant. Neon colors especially were extremely bright! Lights, although blurry, also seemed brighter. Afterwards, when we returned home someone cut open a lemon downstairs and the sharp citrus smell seemed to fill the whole house. However, this highly heightened sense of smell is so far a one-time occurrence.

About three weeks ago, I experienced a major change in my vision. I woke up one day and discovered that I had improved depth perception. I don't know if I ever had any depth perception before! Suddenly what I had read about seeing movement made more sense to me, because I experienced for myself that not only did objects move when I moved but that they moved in relation to each other, and that I could perceive that relative difference in movement as the space between objects. This was a profound experience for me, and a few days later when walking through a university campus with lush landscaping, beautiful brick buildings, and expansive open spaces on a clear sunny day, the amazing beauty I saw with my new-found depth perception brought me to tears. It was as if the world used to be flat and now everything around me felt more real.

I have also discovered since then that my awareness of plants moving has increased. Walking in a city park, I notice movement in the plants all around me that I don't remember seeing before; for example, how the branches of a bush with leaf buds on the tips quiver as they awaken from winter into spring. I also am more aware of movement in my periphery, and my eyes are unconsciously and effortlessly drawn to follow birds flying in the sky.

Now, as I continue to observe my vision and read about the Bates method, I am becoming more conscious of the meaning of centralization. I notice that for objects very close to my face that I "see one small part best" and that by shifting this laser focus on different parts of the object that this creates an incredible 3-D effect that is new to me. I have also noticed that although I can now distinguish various objects in my environment as spatially distinct from each other, each individual object has a uniform blur/static to it, so this likely means that I am not seeing one part best when looking at a distant object (distant for me meaning more than a few inches away!). I have recently felt a sensation in my eyeballs that reminds me of a mechanical camera lens moving in and out to change focus when I try to shift my eyes between different distant objects, but it is subtle and I can't yet reliably reproduce it.

I don't want to leave readers with the impression that not wearing glasses is the only thing I "do" in my self-experiment in vision re-education. During the past few months I have also been actively treating my chronic TMJ with acupuncture, PT, and massage, which I hope will help reduce muscular tension in my head and neck. Some of the other topics I have been studying and practicing lately include Qigong, somatic movement (e.g. Hanna, Alexander Technique), and natural posture (e.g. Gokhale), but I believe these are all related facets in the great mystery of human health.

I noticed that there are some similarities between various Qigong (Chi Kung) dynamic forms and Bates swings and sways. After all, in Qigong the goal is gentle movement in a deep meditative state of mind with conscious attention paid to the breath, and preferably outdoors in a natural environment. Also, for many Qigong forms there are directions for your eyes (and head) to follow the active (moving) hand, and accompanying visualizations for your mind. After I made this connection between Bates methods and Qigong forms, I had a deeper appreciation for my Qigong practice.

My hope is that some of my observations and methods are helpful and encouraging to people considering trying natural vision improvement or who have started it and don't feel like they are making progress.
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#2
(02-07-2015, 01:09 PM)lisaoogee Wrote: This is not a story about complete recovery. I do believe I have experienced some recovery in my vision, but it has a long way to go. I would still like to share some of my observations and methods in case it helps someone. This is my first post so it's not short.

First, a bit about my vision. I am in my early 30's and have had myopia and some astigmatism nearly my entire life. I know I was given my first glasses at a very young age, possibly pre-school. I don't remember the details, because I have very poor long-term memory. I do however have good short-term memory which helped me achieve good grades in school. Mention of the correlation between poor memory, poor imagination, and poor vision was one of the factors that drew me so strongly to Bates, along with my lifelong unspoken thought, based on my fascination with evolution and biology from a young age, that it just made no sense that such a high proportion of our population would suffer from such a severe untreatable structural deformity purely as an inevitable consequence of our genes.

I started reading about the Bates method on my own a few months ago and immediately started wearing my glasses as little as possible. Because of my strong correction (-7.75 OD -7 OS) and need to continue functioning in daily life tasks, completely discarding them was not an option.

Next, I got an eye exam from a conventional optometrist for 20/40 "driving/computer" glasses. Although this exam was only a few weeks into my new habit of reduced-glasses-wearing, the 20/20 prescription for my right eye improved by 0.5 to -7.25, which was encouraging. This was the same optometrist who gave me my last prescription over two years ago, so this change in prescription cannot be dismissed as a change in measurement technique. Also, since prescriptions tend to get stronger over time, I suspect that if I had not started vision improvement before the eye exam then most likely I would have walked out with a stronger instead of weaker prescription. I got the 20/40 prescription (-6.25 OD -6 OS) lenses made instead of the 20/20, and that is now what I use when I need glasses.

My next task was to figure out whether I could eliminate my need to wear glasses for computer work, since it is required for a majority of my professional tasks. I decided to try pinhole glasses for this, although I'm aware that there is some controversy about whether they are beneficial. I have found that by using pinhole glasses with a large monitor at a desk and a reduced desktop resolution, I can use a computer effectively, although less efficiently that I used to. Also when I just need to read something I use my iPad instead of the computer because I can read at close range easily without pinhole glasses. Unfortunately sometimes I have to work on my laptop and I need glasses for that.

In case you think it is not possible to go without glasses in modern daily life, here are some of the activities that I, a person with strong nearsightedness, regularly do without a vision correction device: taking the public bus, jaywalking across busy urban streets, household chores like cooking and cleaning dishes, grocery shopping, eating out at restaurants, hiking in nature. When navigating around the city by foot or bus, sometimes I have to use a "safe squint" to read street signs or bus numbers. I do this by covering one eye with one hand, and with the other hand I make a tiny opening by curling my index finger and thumb to look through with the uncovered eye. I also glance at my smartphone occasionally to see where I am on the map or the bus schedule.

I do find it heartbreaking to go on a nice walk and not be able to see the beautiful views, but I believe that this short term decrease in quality of life is outweighed by all the natural light and visual stimulation that I get from using my naked eyes in a relaxed and attentive/curious manner in natural settings.

On my very first outing without glasses, to a busy farmers market, I simply observed my vision without judgement. The most striking observation was that colors were much more vibrant. Neon colors especially were extremely bright! Lights, although blurry, also seemed brighter. Afterwards, when we returned home someone cut open a lemon downstairs and the sharp citrus smell seemed to fill the whole house. However, this highly heightened sense of smell is so far a one-time occurrence.

About three weeks ago, I experienced a major change in my vision. I woke up one day and discovered that I had improved depth perception. I don't know if I ever had any depth perception before! Suddenly what I had read about seeing movement made more sense to me, because I experienced for myself that not only did objects move when I moved but that they moved in relation to each other, and that I could perceive that relative difference in movement as the space between objects. This was a profound experience for me, and a few days later when walking through a university campus with lush landscaping, beautiful brick buildings, and expansive open spaces on a clear sunny day, the amazing beauty I saw with my new-found depth perception brought me to tears. It was as if the world used to be flat and now everything around me felt more real.

I have also discovered since then that my awareness of plants moving has increased. Walking in a city park, I notice movement in the plants all around me that I don't remember seeing before; for example, how the branches of a bush with leaf buds on the tips quiver as they awaken from winter into spring. I also am more aware of movement in my periphery, and my eyes are unconsciously and effortlessly drawn to follow birds flying in the sky.

Now, as I continue to observe my vision and read about the Bates method, I am becoming more conscious of the meaning of centralization. I notice that for objects very close to my face that I "see one small part best" and that by shifting this laser focus on different parts of the object that this creates an incredible 3-D effect that is new to me. I have also noticed that although I can now distinguish various objects in my environment as spatially distinct from each other, each individual object has a uniform blur/static to it, so this likely means that I am not seeing one part best when looking at a distant object (distant for me meaning more than a few inches away!). I have recently felt a sensation in my eyeballs that reminds me of a mechanical camera lens moving in and out to change focus when I try to shift my eyes between different distant objects, but it is subtle and I can't yet reliably reproduce it.

I don't want to leave readers with the impression that not wearing glasses is the only thing I "do" in my self-experiment in vision re-education. During the past few months I have also been actively treating my chronic TMJ with acupuncture, PT, and massage, which I hope will help reduce muscular tension in my head and neck. Some of the other topics I have been studying and practicing lately include Qigong, somatic movement (e.g. Hanna, Alexander Technique), and natural posture (e.g. Gokhale), but I believe these are all related facets in the great mystery of human health.

I noticed that there are some similarities between various Qigong (Chi Kung) dynamic forms and Bates swings and sways. After all, in Qigong the goal is gentle movement in a deep meditative state of mind with conscious attention paid to the breath, and preferably outdoors in a natural environment. Also, for many Qigong forms there are directions for your eyes (and head) to follow the active (moving) hand, and accompanying visualizations for your mind. After I made this connection between Bates methods and Qigong forms, I had a deeper appreciation for my Qigong practice.

My hope is that some of my observations and methods are helpful and encouraging to people considering trying natural vision improvement or who have started it and don't feel like they are making progress.

Thank you for sharing, what an excellent post. You most definitely will be encouraging to others. Everyone's situation is different, you show how one can manage in the world without relying on perfect vision, especially those with higher levels of myopia. It's not always comfortable, and easy to cope with, but it can bring you more in touch with all your senses, raise self awareness in ways which cannot be done in the flat-world of lenses.

Peripheral rods are superb at detection, detection of motion and even slight levels of light. The central cones are the opposite, bad at detecting low levels of light and motion, but superb at recognition. (the cognitive who what where when why). Yet they work seemlessly together, and imbalance puts strains on us in ways were aren't even aware of. You are spot on about your observation of relative motion. The greater the distance from us, the slower and less distance things swing, or move. The closer objects are, the faster and further they move. Noticing it helps that visual balance, and depth perception. Just don't try to force the recognition of things in the peripheral - peripheral isn't well wired to really recognize, just to detect, to notice, to be aware of. All those higher cognitive functions happen when we turn our eyes/head to foveate on the thing.

You may want to try the Huxley slot card for reading without lenses; it helped him recover from blindness, and go on in his studies to get his doctoral degree and become one of England's greatest writers. (The Art of Seeing - based on Bates, an excellent book).

The complementary disciplines you are involved with will certainly help you in your vision improvement goals. Believing that it can be done is half the battle. Keep working with the various swing methods, raising your awareness of motion. Motion is a key to vision improvement - keep moving at all times, either your eyes, you head, body, or noticing the motion of things around you. The retina, the whole retina needs a constant refreshing of images, even if it be very, very slight. The peripheral especially needs refreshing, as it quickly stops functioning altogether with stillness. Refuse to be still, to imagine things as still. Let things move, or make them move, if you have to.
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