Sassisailor’s Weblog

A description of my journey to improve my eyesight naturally

April 29, 2008 April 30, 2008

Filed under: My Daily Progress — sassisailor @ 10:37 am

Day’s activities:

  • 100 long swings
  • 2 autogenics sessions (Final phase)
  • 25 minute walk outside without glasses
  • Stretching

Today my eyes were really tired and I should have done some palming… unfortunately I did not and I can tell that this didn’t do my vision any favors. 

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Graphs of my progress

Filed under: Snellen Chart Results — sassisailor @ 10:19 am

I have added a new page titled “Vision Progress Graphs”.  This page will have links to updated graphs showing my vision progress.  So far I have only incorporated two graphs; both are indicative of my visual acuity without glasses. 

The first graph is data from January-February that shows the progress from my very first readings to being able to read the 200 line from 20 feet.  So far this is the most dramatic (and quick) progress I have experienced.  This is also the data that shows how I “got on the chart” (able to read the first line from 20 feet). 

The second graph will chart my progress at 20 feet only.  Now that I can read from this distance all of my visual acuity records will document my progress based on which line on the Snellen chart I can read from 20 feet.  This graph will be updated regularly.

There will be more graphs to come (what I can say, I’m an engineer and I like to plot stuff) 🙂

 

“The Incredible Lightness of Being” April 25, 2008

Filed under: Clear Flashes!,My Daily Progress — sassisailor @ 9:25 am

This is a phrase from my very favorite book, “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. It is so dear to me I would equate it to the bible of my core beliefs. This post is not about this book, but this phrase sticks with me every day and has so many different meanings for me. When I sat down to write this post this is the phrase that came to me and it speaks very well to the thoughts I want to express.

A while back I posted about the strange, new, and exciting feelings I experience when my vision truly clears (more than a clear flash, an extended clearing of my vision that lasts for a minute or more). I posted about how I feel more connected to my surroundings and I experience depth and the three-dimensional world in a very personal way.

When this happens a shift occurs in my being; I feel light — and true. My body feels lighter, my head feels more balanced on my neck, and my neck becomes very loose. My breathing is metered and easy, and my heart is strong and steady. When I say that I feel true, I feel that I am experiencing life and vision as it should be, it is unlabored and natural.

The other feeling I experience when I have correct vision is very similar to what I feel during a deep meditation — also what I would describe as “an incredible lightness of being”. Not only does my body find it’s true position but my mind feels open and connected to everything. My conscious awareness is heightened and I feel very happy and at peace. I realize this is starting to sound very esoteric, but it best describes my experience. The openness is something I also experienced when I was a student at a Zen Center, which my teacher called “Big Mind”. He would help us get to this “Big Mind” state (without drugs!) and it is a wonderful feeling. I don’t think it is a coincidence that “Big Mind” coincides with correct vision. This feeling originates in the back of my skull, near where the visual cortex and also further down in a location that has been termed the “Gates of Consciousness”. I have not read Aldous Huxley’s book “The Art of Seeing”, but I believe he also talks about this. What I find amusing is that Huxley also wrote a book titled “The Doors of Perception” and this is where The Doors (the band) got the idea for the name of their band.  Of course this book describes his experience with mind-altering drugs, but I have heard from a person whom shall remain anonymous that the experience of mind-altering drugs compared to meditative effects are almost identical.  I have loved The Doors since I was in grade school and I find it incredibly amusing and interesting how everything comes around full circle and finds similarity and connection.  Of course I do not condone drug use by any means, I think this feeling of mind-alteration can be achieved through natural, safe means.   I believe a true and happy existence (which includes correct vision) is all connected and has a foundation in the same basic principles. Our bodies, minds, and spirits are all interconnected and I don’t believe our whole existence can be at its full potential if all three are not melded into one happy, healthy and cohesive whole.

 

April 25, 2008

Filed under: My Daily Progress — sassisailor @ 8:56 am

Yesterday I finished Phase 5 of autogenics.  I only have one more phase left!  I am started to feel the benefits of autogenics very quickly now and I have also been able to use it anytime (I don’t have to be laying down).  My legs finally got very heavy and now I can slow down my heartbeat and my breathing and relax my whole body.  It has been a great tool and I’m really looking forward to the last phase.  I start today and it lasts for two weeks.  After that I will have a simple set of phrases to use for relaxation and I can add my own phrases to help with my eyesight.  I’m going to incorporate ideas from Bates and Grunwald in developing some self-hypnotic phrases for helping my vision; we’ll see how it works!

This week I have also been taking 25 minute walks almost everyday without my glasses on.  I still get clear flashes and when I’m outside my vision sometimes remains clearer for long periods.  On some of my walks I even forget I’m not wearing my glasses!  I’m really getting used to how I see without my glasses and am happier without them than with.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned something at the very end that I wanted to reiterate.  I am wearing glasses that are OD -5D and OS -4.25D (these are glasses I purchased in January, not quite the right fit for both eyes), but I can now see my vision clear to 20/20 when I wear these glasses.  I’m going to order a new pair that are -5 D in both eyes, and possibly a pair that are -4.25 in both eyes as well.  When I started I was wearing OD -8D and OS -7.25D!  So even though my vision with these reduced glasses isn’t perfectly sharp all the time if I practice my good vision habits with my glasses on, my vision will become very sharp.   I’m excited as I had never before been able to see such improvement while wearing glasses, only when I wasn’t wearing them.  I still try to go without glasses at all times unless I need them, but I imagine I wear glasses approximately 8 hours per day.  Hopefully this means I’m spending the other 8 waking hours without glasses!

I have been doing some swings, but no palming.  I also shift my vision whenever I can.  Sometimes I forget but it’s becoming more of a habit.  I can tell much more strongly now when I’m not practicing my shift, breathe, and blink because my eyes immediately become painfully dry and if I don’t rest them it’s unbearable.

I’m working on another graph that I can update more frequently and post it on its own page so it’s easier to track my progress.  I also plan to diligently plot my Snellen chart reading results for every day and have two charts; one for bright mid-day daylight conditions and the other for dim light conditions.

 

Correlation between visual acuity with and without glasses April 24, 2008

Filed under: Focometer Results,Snellen Chart Results — sassisailor @ 2:48 pm

As many readers and I myself have noticed there is a discrepancy between my visual acuity without glasses and the correction required as indicated by my focometer. There is a rough correlation that has been found between lines that can be read on a Snellen chart and the required glass lens strength required to improve that person’s vision back to 20/20. Based on this correlation one would expect that if I can read 20/70 on the Snellen chart I would require a lens with a strength of -3D. However, when I measure my refractive state with the focometer it indicates I require a -6D strength lens to read 20/20.  I have heard that I should be comparing my prescribed lens strength to my visual acuity in a dim room. I measured my acuity at night in a dimly lit room and I can read 20/200. This is a little bit closer but a disparity still exists.

I believe that this lack of correlation between the two methods is due in part to two factors that are probably related: psychology (or confidence) and muscle memory. I don’t have any scientific evidence for these explanations, only postulations.

The psychological aspect, mental aspect, whatever you want to call it, affects how we view our visual potential. I’ll equate this to running. Let’s say that you haven’t run more than a mile in twenty years and you want to run five miles today. Mentally you will probably start feeling tired after the first mile and think it will be difficult to continue. You may make it to two miles, but most likely you will not run the full five miles. You would have to work up to the five miles to be both physically and mentally able to run the full five miles. Our mental “attitude” has an impact on our abilities. I’m not saying that it’s always the limiting factor; but it could be for some people. With respect to vision I think we experience (to a certain degree) this same effect. I experienced this first hand when I thought I was wearing a reduced pair of glasses and was seeing as if I was wearing the reduced pair. When I realized I was wearing the full strength pair my vision immediately improved to reflect the fact that I was wearing full strength glasses. I have read cases of this happening to other people as well. This goes back to the fact that I think a big impact on our vision is how well we THINK we’re going to see.

The other factor I have considered is muscle memory. Poor vision is in part caused by eyestrain. Eyestrain is caused by tension in the muscles surrounding the eye.  Some circles have discussed that the extraocular muscles must maintain a level of strain to keep the eye in an elongated shape in order to see well through a glass lens (i.e. the brain wouldn’t relax the extraocular muscles if the strained muscles were producing clear vision due to the glasses).  If you have ever studied control systems this makes a lot of sense; we are getting feedback to our visual cortex from our eyes and vice versa.  My theory is that over many many years the muscles in our eyes become accustomed to “performing” this certain task in order for us to see properly with a pair of glasses. When we wear a strong pair of glasses our eyes never get a chance to relax because in order to see well our eyes must maintain a certain degree of strain to keep our vision at an acceptable acuity level; that and most of wear our glasses during all waking hours.  When we do not wear our glasses our eyes can relax more because our brains aren’t sending feedback to the muscles to maintain the eyestrain in order to continue seeing well. This is why I think it’s so beneficial and quicker results are obtained if glasses are discarded altogether.  Unfortunately I can’t do this.  When we don’t wear our glasses our eyes can relax but when we put glasses back on I think our muscles go back to the position that they are accustomed to, which is the level of strain that helps place the eye in the position required to see well with a specific lens strength. It takes time to retrain muscles to perform new tasks (e.g. brush your teeth with your nondominant hand). A good example of this is posture. If we have been sitting in a poor posture for twenty years it will take a while to rehabilitate the muscles to feel correct in the correct posture; the bad pasture will feel correct to us for a while. I don’t believe the physical part of our visual system is much different.  Muscle memory is defined as being an unconscious and learned process that manifests from neural pathways that have developed through repetitive practice.   The exact mechanisms are unknown, however significant behavioral evidence exists to support its validity.  I have also read that attitude affects muscle memory quite significantly.  Anyone out there who is a musician is probably familiar with this concept.  For example, I can play a piece of music perfectly on the piano until I am in front of an audience of strangers; then I tense up and my abilities are diminished.  Stress could be considered an attitude I suppose (albeit sometimes involuntary), so it is reasonable to extrapolate that stress can have a negative impact on vision as I am of the group of people who believes that the extraocular muscles affect visual acuity.

Another related point to muscle memory is visual habits.  When wearing glasses we lose the good natural visual habits of shifting, blinking, and saccadic eye movements.  It would stand to reason that learning the incorrect muscular habits of staring, not blinking often, and reduction or loss of saccadic eye movements is a result of incorrect muscle memory  habits which are unconscious.   It is extremely difficult to change unconscious behavior which can be a huge boulder in the road of vision improvement.  It takes almost constant attention on a previously unconscious habit which is not easy to maintain over long periods of time.  It is equally difficult to then train new muscle memory habits which are correct so that these may become the new unconscious habits.

The very act of putting glasses or contacts over our eyes is a cue to our brains that we are now changing our visual perception.  I do not underestimate the power this has over our visual cortex and our attitude and the effect this has on our visual acuity.  Putting glasses on my eyes is not something I do unconsciously so I am aware that I should now be seeing better which brings attention to the fact that I expect to see a certain way with a specific pair of glasses on my face.   The same is true for using a focometer or other lens over the eye.

In short, I think both our confidence and perhaps more importantly muscle memory play a role in this disparity.  As I sit here I can see my vision getting better and worse while wearing my reduced prescription glasses and I think this is a good sign that I am starting to break through the entrenched neural pathways that dictate the muscle tension and poor habits in my extraocular muscles.  There is more flexibility in my eyes regardless of the mechanism behind the improvement.  If I focus on practicing the correct visual habits with my glasses on I can now see an improvement which I previously never experienced.    Being able to see an improvement in my vision while wearing glasses is important to me because it signifies to me that I can improve my vision with or without glasses on my face.  Previously I was only seeing changes in my vision without my glasses.  Hopefully this means that putting glasses on does not have as strong of a psychological component for me anymore.

 

April 22, 2008 April 22, 2008

Filed under: My Daily Progress,Snellen Chart Results — sassisailor @ 9:47 am

I read my Snellen chart this morning and was disappointed to see that I’m only able to read 20/100…  I have been under a lot of pressure for work and I can tell that I’m carrying a lot of unnecessary stress.  Unfortunately as a result my vision has shown a noticeable degradation 😦  Luckily I know this is temporary but it is sad that stress can have such a negative affect on my vision!
On a positive note, I’m happy that I can at least read 20/100.  This is much better than I could read when I first began the Bates Method and I’m sure that these types of fluctuations will be common as the  months go by.

 

20/50! April 16, 2008

Filed under: My Daily Progress — sassisailor @ 2:51 pm

I have been reading a book on the Alexander Technique and today I had time to try the back relaxation techniques described in the book.  I layed down on the floor with my knees bent and a pillow underneath with my feet flat on the floor and a towel underneath my head.  The purpose is to allow the back to relax and the neck to be suspended so that it can relax and lengthen.  I did a session of autogenics (phase 5) and then got up.  I did not have my glasses on and when I got up I was able to read 20/50!  There was no double vision and the letters I could read were almost completely black!   The even more incredible thing is that it is partly cloudy outside so I imagine if it had been really sunny I would have been reading even better!  After realizing my vision was so good I tensed up and was fixating on the letters.  Then my vision degraded back to 20/70.  If I can learn to let go of the good vision and not stare at whatever I’m seeing well I think it will help me focus on what is changing in my body to help me see better.

I have been thinking a lot about my progress and the things that have helped.  I haven’t been doing any swinging or palming for weeks now; not because I don’t want to but because I’ve been travelling and have had guests.  The only things I’ve been working on have been autogenics and correct body posture.  I think this has been important but I think there is something MORE important for which I have only been slowly realizing. 

When I first began working on improving my vision I was highly nearsighted.  For twenty years now I have always had perfectly crystal clear vision at all times because I never went a day without glasses or contacts. For four months now I have been trying to minimize the amount of time I wear glasses (I have not worn contacts in four months).  Up until recently when I was not wearing my glasses I didn’t mind everything being blurry but that was just it, I EXPECTED things to be blurry and I was OK with it.  The real breakthroughs have started happening when I realized I CAN see without my glasses.  Now, rather than just trying to be comfortable living in a blurry world I’m focusing on what I can see without my glasses rather than what I can’t see.  I feel as if there has been a shift in my mentality with respect to my attitude about my vision.  I’m sure that all of the months I spent accepting the blurry world were a necessary step in my journey and now I am excited to be in the middle of a new stage where I have realized the world is NOT blurry.  When I expect to see well I do.  It may not always be perfect (20/20) but it’s improved.