Wide-eyed Wonder: an artist's musings on three-dimensional vision

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

Discovering peripheral vision

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I went home from my first appointment and extensive eye exam on Tuesday with instructions to tape the center 1″ of my glasses and discover my peripheral vision system. I emailed my vision therapist the next day:

You told me to “have fun” with my occluded center vision and heightened peripheral vision. I have to tell you— I’m having a blast!

Seriously, I’ve noticed several amazing things (and it’s only half-way through the first day):

  • I automatically go up and down the stairs without reaching to feel the right wall
  • I saw myself go THROUGH a doorway! I was so thrilled I turned and went a back THROUGH the doorway about 3 more times (and then laughed at the cat staring at me and meowing from the middle of the kitchen floor.)
  • I am more aware of my the muscles working in my feet, ankles and legs, and am walking without looking at my feet, or looking a short distance on the path in front of them.
  • I feel taller … more erect … chin up more.

Fixing My Gaze finally arrived, and I am already half way through it. It turns out that the process of perceiving THROUGH has a name: optic flow. Barry writes

As I continued my vision therapy and became increasingly aware of my peripheral vision, I was able to tap into a phenomenon called optic flow. When you move forward, objects to the side of you appear to move backward. This optic flow is fastest for objects oriented at 90° to your movement, and the closer objects appear to you, the faster they appear to move … Cinematographers and video game designers have figured out how to create illusions of motion on flat screens by simulating optic flow. (p. 84)

Perhaps that’s why, every time I go through a doorway, I can almost hear the hum and “whoosh!” of a surround-sound theater space portal!

I’ve since realized I did learn to rely on peripheral vision in my mid-30s, when I was on a worship dance team (there was grace enough for a girl with two left feet to dance in church). I had to look out of the corners of my eyes because I needed to know where everyone was and what they were doing to stay in sync and to keep in my designated “window” in the choreography.

It just never occurred to me to use it always.

With my peripheral vision, I am able to use both eyes at the same time. Perhaps that’s why my body feels more balanced with the occlusion than without.

I am using these new glasses every chance I get!

center-occluded glasses

My new sno-occluded glasses (The Sno Seal is less visible than tape; and the beeswax won’t mess with the carbon lenses. I used the tape to get a straight line, and applied the wax with a very soft watercolor brush.)

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