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

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

Avoiding fusion confusion

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My second eye appointment is not for another week. I feel I am getting ahead of myself with any attempt to fuse small images around my center-occluded glasses, and so have not worked at this for the last couple of days. After reading more of Fixing my Gaze, I am swearing off fusion until I try it in my vision therapist’s office.

The uncertainty about making myself see double, even for a split second is rooted in what Cynthia said when she was examining me last week: “You don’t want to see double!”

“Of course I don’t want to see double!—” I replied “but I have to see double as a result of turning ‘on’ both eyes, don’t I?”

The question was also on Sue Barry’s mind at the beginning of her therapy:

“If I turned on the input from both eyes, I asked Dr. Ruggerio, wouldn’t I see double? Isn’t this why I suppressed in the first place? This concern is why it is so important to undertake vision therapy with an optometrist highly trained in binocular vision. To prevent this situation, Dr. Ruggerio gave me several procedures that taught me how to aim both eyes precisely at the same place in space at the same time. As I mastered this skill, something remarkable happened. I learned to fuse images from two eyes and achieved what I thought was impossible: I began to see in stereoscopic depth.” (Fixing My Gaze, p.88)

I must be patient. I have not begun therapy yet, and should not be trying to accomplish stereopsis in an uncontrolled way, via my own experiments. Haven’t I done this all my life, anyway? Where has it gotten me? It will only result in flying saucers, which are not of any use and only feed my need to suppress two-eyed input. Instead, I must wait for the precise exercises that will train my eyes switch on only when they team correctly.

November 29

I have created a new game to play with my center-occluded glasses. The edges of the occlusion sometimes fuzzily split a shining thing in the dark early morning distance, a reflection in the window, or a slight opening in the curtain about 12 feet from where I sit on the couch, with feet up and a dog or two on my lap.

When I look just right, softening my gaze with the reflection on either side of the occlusion, a second reflection floats into being, and shimmers and hovers with the first. They look like two flying saucers, and I chirp “Good brain!” My brain is unlearning the “auto off switch” for one image or the other. But it is hard to keep them flying for more than a second or two.

I startle and inhale when, in what seems like a millisecond, the saucers fuze into one. “Oh! Was that fusion? Let me SEE” and one eye takes over, then I switch to the other and compare that fleeting image with the one-eyed versions. I am not sure, really.

It’s all over. I try again once or twice more in the early morning darkness, sipping coffee by the fire. I can get the saucers to fly, but not fuze. It becomes too tiring all too soon. The refection resumes it’s solidity in the front window, an input from one eye only.

Heather posted a similar experience on her blog, One-eyed Girl. I wonder if she is also going about this the wrong way, and merely activating her suppression, or is she “holding onto binocular vision”?

My binocular vision is still very weak. When I wake I can conjure up two door knobs on my closet door. One is very faint and elusive, it stays for a moment, drifts away and then I see one door knob again. This is my brain’s ability to hold onto binocular vision. Fusion; seeing those two door knobs as one is my ultimate goal (I can suppress one door knob and get one, but my goal is the ability to merge the two). The brains ability to take two images and make them one is a magnificent process that we take for granted every day. Unfortunately (and fortunately), I am expert at suppressing, it has been the way I have kept my visual world in order my entire life.

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Written by Lynda Rimke

December 2, 2010 at 11:19 am

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