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

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

Archive for the ‘monocular depth perception cues’ Category

Relax. Let go. Give your brain permission.

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I’ve been following this VT patient’s progress reports with interest. Today’s post “Stop trying so hard and just SEE” mentions a common hurdle to diverging our eyes, the ability to RELAX those rogue eye turn-in muscles! “Stop LOOKING” my VT would often say. LOOKING to isolate something normally fixates both eyes on an object, or in my case, unconsciously fixates one eye while turning in and suppressing the out-of-alignment image of the other. “Soften your gaze” was another frequent VT exhortation.

1218randotLast week, random dots did the trick of NOT LOOKING for this VT patient, and I think I understand why. The randomness of the thing viewed eliminates the worry about getting a “right” answer, and therefore is less stressful than “Is the elephant or the fly popping out for you?” which can trigger frantic LOOKING.

Randomness is the opposite of representation, therefore the brain lets go of the need to comprehend and interpret an object. As an artist who strives to accurately represent objects, a good dose of randomness may be exactly what my brain needs to stop trying so hard.

This is why, for me, letting go also requires giving myself permission to allow a new way of seeing to emerge, to be visually open-minded.

I’m rejoicing that random dot stereograms are working for this patient to overcome her eye turn-in along with the many awesome mind-opening exercises her Vision Therapist is tailoring to wake up her brain.

By letting go and giving herself permission to see a new way, her world is opening up into the third dimension I long to experience.

 

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“Why Don’t You Ask Me?”

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I can’t begin to describe my emotions. This desire to keep working at vision therapy in some fashion has never left me over the last five years, since the March 2011 Branch Retinal Artery Occlusion brought my program with my Developmental Optometrist to an irreversible halt. “You are not binocular” I was informed one year out, with what felt like a firm, conversation-ending “period.” Even so, I sat there and meekly persisted to ask about doing vision therapy exercises, although the visual field in my half-blind right eye had not changed. “You can play around with it …” she offered. Whether this was her intent or not, I received this withering assessment as hopeless, and allowed hopelessness to bury my desire.

But desire simply squirmed in rebellion from time to time at the bottom of its grave. This deep inner writhing has occurred, without fail, every spring when my work outdoors brings fresh binocular-like quales, those take-your-breath-away sightings of something more.

Am a really so hopelessly “not binocular”? Isn’t binocularity a continuum? Are my quales perhaps peripheral fusion or ARC? Can’t I work to become a wee bit binocular?

Who has stopped me from working at it? No one.

Not even God, Himself.

Shortly after the “You are not binocular.” office visit, I suffered a painful irony: In June 2012, my artwork had earned a “People’s Choice” prize that cut me to the quick.

I had to make a special trip out to the gallery to pick up my prize, which turned out not be the badly needed cash I was anticipating (we were tied up with two homes at the time), but a “how to paint” DVD of some smiling unknown artist with his simple barn painting.

About half way home, when I stopped to pick up groceries, I swallowed my “I painted a better barn at this competition!” vanity and opened myself up to the idea that maybe, as an artist, I could learn something from this particular barn-painting demonstration. So I read the back. In all caps, this unknown artist stated:

I LOVE TO PAINT. I LOVE TO CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF A THREE DIMENSIONAL SCENE IN TWO DIMENSIONS. IT’S MY PASSION.

I don’t cry often, but this was an astounding dart to my heart from the blue. I fought back the tears, threw the DVD on the seat and went grocery shopping.

Enroute home, about 100’ from my driveway, I sputter at God in a howl “What is this, some kind of cosmic JOKE? You KNOW I can’t see three dimensions!!!” This Creator gave me a brain that prefers alternating esotropia. This Creator allowed that tiny blood clot to enter the branch artery of my dominant right eye and stay there. What was He thinking?

As I brought the car to a stop, a question invaded the wound in my heart: “Why don’t you ask Me?”

And so I have continued to ask, haltingly, not for an answer to what this Creator is doing, but to see more with the two eyes He has given me, more than I ever have seen before.

1306lyndarimkebarn

“Kishman’s Barn” oil on canvas by Lynda Rimke. Painted “en plein air” June 2012

Schools Need Binocular Vision Screening

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I read about an appeal to write my congressman from the “Let Them See Clearly Campaign” to add binocular vision screening to a bill, as posted in a DIY Vision Therapy Group I belong to on Facebook.

I emailed a rather lengthy letter to my House Representative about three weeks ago, using the campaign’s information, and adding my own research and brief personal story. I haven’t heard back, but hope to. It seems to me that adding binocular vision screening to this bill would be a good fit.  Here’s why (Although I just learned after posting that the writers want to create a separate bill*):

To the Honorable ….

re. H.R 3535 the “Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act” in Committee

Dear …..

H.R 3535 should add screening for binocular vision (BV) impairment to the vision screening protocol to identify students with visual disabilities.* BV is tested via an assessment of eye focusing, eye teaming, and eye movement abilities (accommodation, binocular vision, ocular motility.)**

Under the “Categories of Disability Under IDEA” (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), “Visual Impairment Including Blindness means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance.”(1)

The Visual Impairment definition further states: “Most of us are familiar with visual impairments such as near-sightedness and far-sightedness. Less familiar visual impairments include: strabismus, where the eyes look in different directions and do not focus simultaneously on a single point…” (2)

Strabismus (Esotropia and Exotropia) is just one of many Binocular Vision impairments. More common ailments are:

Convergence Insufficiency, where the eyes fail to team together to see things up close. “Convergence is the coordinated movement and focus of our two eyes inward on close objects, including phones, tablets, computers, and books.”

Amblyopia or “lazy eye” where the brain suppresses the image from one eye because the image is different than that of the other eye.

Diplopia or double vision

Esophoria or exophoria, where the suppression of one eye is intermittent.

Strabismus, as either Esotropia (“crossed eyes”) or Exotropia (“wall eyes”), occurs when the suppression of one eye is well established.(3)

Undiagnosed Binocular Vision Impairments are increasingly triggered in children by our convergent-based technology, which requires turned-in eye-teaming on phones, tablets and computers, with little outdoor play to aid binocular vision development. (4)

Unfortunately, at the same time, children in school are being misdiagnosed in IEP’s when binocular vision problems inhibit learning. These children can and should receive an early diagnosis and, hence, the opportunity to pursue certified optometric vision therapy and/or recommendations from an Opthalmalogist to normalize visual processing and improve learning ability and quality of life.

Furthermore, IEPs must include accommodations necessary to aid the child undergoing optometric vision therapy as advised by their Doctor of Developmental Optometry, in order to not undo progress made under vision therapy. This may include not forcing the child to read, for example, until her unstable convergence issues are resolved.

-13 to 20% of the population have impaired binocular vision that is 75% curable according to a double blind study by NEI (5)

-Studies by ADHD and vision experts show 20 -25% are misdiagnosed and have binocular vision impairments (6)

-Autism.com says studies show that 21 to 50% of autistic children also have binocular vision impairments. (7)

“Binocular vision impairments are more common than you may think. Just one type of binocular impairment, amblyopia (“lazy eye”), affects approximately 3% of the population. At least 12% of the population has some type of problem with binocular vision.” (8)

As an adult with alternating esotropia, a form of strabismus (crossed-eyes), I can’t begin to tell you how much better my quality of life would have been if my condition had been diagnosed and treated while I was a child in the 1960s. My parents gladly spent money to straighten my teeth, not realizing that all their harping about my feet turning out and my poor posture was due to my eyes not teaming to create a visual center-line for my posture and gait. This of course made gym class excruciating, as I was always the last to be picked for any team (imagine trying to catch a fly ball without any sense of depth) and also made socialization difficult as other children did not know if I was looking at them or something else.

Instead of learning how to use both eyes together, in early childhood my brain spent extra energy suppressing the vision of one eye or the other to avoid double vision. While my early well-established suppression allowed me to read without difficulty in 1st grade, it has lasted for a lifetime.

The extra energy expended by the brain to suppress vision and live and move by monocular depth cues, instead of fusing vision from both eyes to see palpable space and distance, limits one’s ability to: multitask on any level (how many jobs require this?); drive well during demanding depth needs (e.g. driving multiple sized vehicles on the job); work in food service, landscaping, auto-mechanics, carpentry, etc.; participate in sports or recreation (eg. yoga, dance, catching or hitting a ball); or watch 3D movies (the latter is impossible.)

Please, please, make screening for binocular vision issues a goal, so that 12% of the population can benefit from early vision therapy intervention to avoid the everyday pitfalls this hidden, subtile disability creates, which must be endured for one’s entire life.

Respectfully
Lynda Rimke
https://leavingflatland.wordpress.com
*For reference:
Title II—IMPROVING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND RELATED SERVICES FOR STUDENTS WITH VISUAL DISABILITIES
Subtitle A—General Provisions
Sec. 201. Identifying students with visual disabilities.
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr3535/text/ih

** https://covd.site-ym.com/?page=Exam

(1) http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/categories/

(2) http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/visualimpairment/

(3) http://www.covd.org/?page=VisionConditions

(4) https://nei.nih.gov/sites/default/files/nei-pdfs/VisionResearch2012.pdf p50 “spending time in bright outdoor light appears to be important for normal eye development…In 1972, approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population, 12–54 years of age, were nearsighted, compared to 42 percent 30 years later”

The Binocular Vision Dysfunction Pandemic http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.covd.org/resource/resmgr/ovd41-1/editorial_binocularpandemic.pdf

(5) https://nei.nih.gov/news/pressreleases/101308

(6) http://www.add-adhd.org/vision_therapy_FAQ.html

(7) https://www.autism.com/treating_vision

(8) http://www.children-special-needs.org/questions.html

For further reading:

American Academy of Optometry Binocular Vision, Perception, and Pediatric Optometry Position Paper on Optometric Care of the Struggling Student For parents, educators, and other professionals August 2013
http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.covd.org/resource/resmgr/position_papers/revised_oct_18_bvppo_positio.pdf

http://www.covd.org/?page=VisionConditions

http://www.covd.org/?page=Vision_Therapy

* Let Them See Clearly Campaign LTSCC just commented on my Facebook share today: After meeting the HR 3535 writers from the American Federation for the Blind, they thought that though HR 3535 should pass that BVD needs its own bill. They said it was a statement piece that the extras may bog down my efforts and never pass. I do think a BVD on its own would be best and will talk to my legislation writer and my rep contacts about options. Thanks for the blog. HR 3535 should pass and will help with BVD along with a comprehensive bill. Working on that. :) Thx for your help

I replied: Let’s hope for the best. I’m going to add your comment to my post. Thanks.

And then, later: I’ve been thinking about this. I’m not happy they think comprehensive screening isn’t part of the bill. I mean, come on, how hard is it to add a simple cover uncover test and use a pen light? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZErvGS1EqyM

And just now: Ok, I remember— those two tests only discover well-established strabismus and not other binocular vision issues such as convergence insufficiency, which is far more common. Maybe a full bill just for Binocular Vision Disorders is the better idea … if it ever gets written!

 

Stereo Vision Survey

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Exciting news! Bruce Bridgeman, the gentleman who gained stereo vision after watching Hugo, has teamed up with Sue Barry of Fixing My Gaze to create a long crowd-sourced research project in search of those who have experienced increased stereo vision after watching 3D movies.

Although my stereo experiences are limited and have not yet been scientifically verified, there seems to be room for even me to take this survey, as there is a comment section at the end of three different sections where I can plug in additional information. (In my case, how BRAO has affected my vision.)

I encourage all strabismic adults to at least read the survey, which is instructive in itself. If you have had a stereoscopic experience after watching a 3D movie, share your experience in the survey.

The survey also takes into account if you have had any vision therapy or had your stereo-awareness measured by a professional.

The VisionHelp Blog

If either you, a family member, or any patients you encounter have developed stereo vision as an adult – even intermittent or weak stereo vision – please complete this survey developed by Sue Barry and Bruce Bridgeman:

http://bit.ly/1vThYaM

custom_clipboard_check_em_15372

The survey and its background were just published on page 13 of the new journal, Vision Development & Rehabilitation.  Through crowdsourcing of this nature, Drs. Barry and Bridgeman may be able to provide evidence to support that the viewing of stereoscopic 3D movies and similar modalities can be therapeutic for certain individuals.  We blogged about that possibility here last year, and this survey is an important step in that direction.

Completing the survey is entirely voluntary. You do not need to answer every question before submitting it. Your answers are sent to a spreadsheet which simply tabulates your answers with no other identifying information.  Thank you in advance!

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Life of 3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 etc.

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… that would be Pi

I’d read so much about the artistic use of 3D technology in Ang Lee’s film Life of Pi, I decided it was worth a strabismic test. If I did not see palpable space, with things jumping off the screen towards me, at least I would see art: imagery that would move me and delight my eyes and heart.

I learned something even before seeing the movie: I’m probably the last person on the planet to arrive at a 3D movie only to discover the theater is playing a 2D version! I’d read so much about the artful use of 3D by Ang Lee, that I completely ruled out anyone wanting to see the movie any other way. And so our first trip to the nearest theater in the next town was self-defeating. We went grocery shopping instead.

But, almost two weeks later, Pi resurfaced (with the necessary “3D” listed in the title) in the next town over. (I had given up on Pi and was looking for the Hobbit. But Middle Earth can wait.)

It was good timing for taking in a matinee today, as I had exactly one week to adjust to my new bi-focal lenses with base-right prism (but that’s another story.)

As the film began, the hummingbirds in flight brought an audible thrill to the folks to my left. Ah, but they were too quick for me! And then a short conversation began between my husband and I: “Did you see that? says he. “No” says I. After a few more similar exchanges I said “If I see something, I’ll squeeze your hand.” I believe he got one hesitant squeeze as the monkeys rushed through the trees.

Then I forgot all about how I was seeing as I became immersed in the story.

It was a delightful story with visible layers of foreground, middle-ground and background all moving on their own planes, however if only within the screen for me. More delightful were the even more layers of meaning. Naturally it is easier to take the layers of meaning with me, and enjoy them in my mind long after the visual effects fade away. Ang Lee was masterful in using the concrete layers of the story to enhance the abstract and philosophical.

I had popped sinus medication and ginger pills before the trip, and the seas did get rough! But my stomach did not once drop out from under me. (Suppression has it’s advantages.) I also did not turn green around the gills when the seas turned calm with endless random bobbing. No ginger pills needed, unlike the many times I’ve been becalmed on Lake Erie in my father’s sailboat!

But the “float” stayed with me after the movie.

When everything is floating for two and a half hours, my guess is it does open one’s brain to recognize “float” in the real world.
Dr. Susan Barry describes her experience with “float”, saying “Knowing that objects are separated by volumes of space and perceiving those empty volumes are very different experiences. ”

My first thing to pop out toward me was not the whale in the movie, but my coat, hanging in front of me on a hook in the bathroom stall. It billowed towards me. (My first “sighting” since getting the new lenses.) The bathroom sink faucet took on the familiar forward projection, and doorways and all things moving in my periphery as I walked through the lobby swam in kinetic motion-parallax. A trip to Lowe’s afterwards revealed noticeable depth in the layers of paint chip racks. Empty racks of all sorts reached out toward me, and a small stand of Ohio State banners swam towards me as I walked by, like a school of fish.

I’m floating still.

Links to layers of meaning
Life of Pi: A Novel by Yann Martel By Phoebe Kate Foster http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/life-of-pi/

‘Life of Pi’ Ending Explained by Ben Kendrick http://screenrant.com/life-of-pi-movie-ending-spoilers/

Links to layers of 3D
Life Of Pi’s Visual Effects Are Extraordinary. Here’s Why by Brendon Connelly
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/12/19/life-of-pis-cg-secrets-fx-supervisor-bill-westenhofer-on-tigers-magical-skies-and-more/

How did they bring the ‘unfilmable’ Life of Pi to our screens? by Nick Clark
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/how-did-they-bring-the-unfilmable-life-of-pi-to-our-screens-8393738.html

Ang Lee On The Filmmaking Journey Of “Life of Pi” By: Scott Pierce
http://www.fastcocreate.com/1682021/ang-lee-on-the-filmmaking-journey-of-life-of-pi

How 3D in film is improving, especially for the stereoblind

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Several months ago, I was encouraged by the BBC story  of a stereoblind man who gained binocular vision simply by watching a 3D movie.

In February 2012, neuroscientist Bruce Bridgeman went with his wife to see Hugo,  a masterfully crafted 3D movie by Martin Scorese. Bridgmen recounts in an email to Oliver Sacks  “my wife and I paid a surcharge for 3D glasses, which I thought were a waste of money for me – having been exotropic since childhood, I was nearly stereo-blind. But I took the polarizing glasses to avoid seeing annoying fringes in the film.

To my great surprise, I immediately experienced the film in vivid stereo. I was enthralled.

“But perhaps the filmmakers exaggerated the stereo disparities in the film to enhance the value of the 3D technology … Hugo’s VFX supervisor Ben Grossmann said ‘We checked and checked: We were four to six times bigger than any other 3D movie.’ But everything looked amazing …

Image

“When the movie ended we turned in our polarized glasses and walked out into the street. I was astonished to see a lamppost standing out from the background. Trees, cars, even people were in relief more vivid than I had ever experienced. Clearly the disparities weren’t amped up on the street. Did a few hours of enhanced disparity wake up long-neglected binocular neurons in my visual cortex?”

The blogger who posted Bruce Bridgeman’s email is non other than Barry B. Sandrew, Ph.D., stereographer and founder of Legend3D, which worked with Scorese on Hugo and Director Ang Lee on Life of Pi.  Like Scorese and Lee, Sandrew is more interested in how 3D technology can enhance a story to make it more life-like, instead of pushing bizarre 3D experiences on an audience. Thankfully, the trend has shifted towards creating depth scripts to enhance drama: “The actors become like a moving sculpture,” Mr. Scorsese says. “This brings it out, particularly in the faces of the actors, the drama.” 1

I am of the opinion that well-crafted, life-experience-enhancing 3D movies will provide the most powerful “handle” for my stereoblind brain to understand stereopsis. Morgan Peck, the BBC blogger, adds that breakthrough comes, according to Dr. Laurie Wilcox of York University “when the person finally figures out what to look for.”

Peck backs the idea of stereo cognition via monocular depth cues  with the experimental research of Dr. Dennis Levi, where in 2011 five stereoblind adults learned to see 3D.  “Levi found that his subjects were most likely to have a breakthrough if the stereoscopic images were reinforced by monocular cues like relative size and shading. This could explain why Bridgeman’s experience was so dramatic.” 2

Peck adds final affirmation from Dr. Sandrew “It’s intuitive that monocular cues, which partially stereoblind people rely on every day are essential to the quality of their 3D experience. My mantra is to incorporate monocular cues wherever possible.”

I just checked: I can still catch Life of Pi in my area. There’s still time to see Sandrew’s mantra in action. I’m onto it!

Further reading:
A Visionary Director’s Sumptuous ‘Pi’ by Joe Morgenstern Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323713104578132912697702772.html

“Life of Pi” Director Ang Lee to Receive Harold Lloyd Award at International 3D Society Creative Arts Awards, February 6, 2013
http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20121203-902307.html?mod=crnews

The Godfathers of Film Take On 3-D* (include Scorese’s thoughts on the application of 3D in Hugo)
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903918104576502090225620336.html

 

Written by Lynda Rimke

January 10, 2013 at 12:15 am

Sightings in 2012

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SIGHTINGS in 2012

Dr. Leonard Press, in his blog Vision Helps states that

“stereopsis is a quale of binocular vision that immeasurably enriches our daily lives.”

Throughout 2012, I recorded my own 3D qualia in scribbles in notebooks and texts to my iPhone and iPad, and on my homesteading album:

120129qualebush

January 29
“I delight over the extruding branches of the two, snow covered honeysuckles in the evening light. I am so entranced I walk around each bush two times.”

February 5th
On my homesteading album, I wrote “I appreciate how I can use the balance board while doing dishes. It combines a core work-out with vision-therapy-enhanced ability to see 3D, as both sides of my brain are working at balance and therefore work more readily at bringing both eyes into play. Yes, I’m still leaving flatland. I never saw the hollow insides of soap bubbles before!

February 8th
Felt my eyes coming together on an apricot as I held it about 8″ from my nose. It was highly defined and inhabiting space. Later, as I rinsed a pan, the front edge appeared to be 3D.”

March 21st
In my homesteading album, I wrote “A very 3D bramble reaches out to me this morning.”

bramble120321

April 4th
I practiced physiological diplopia with the doorstop that is in the middle of the bathroom wall at Hennis, and “while looking at my fully extended finger, I continued to see two doorstops.

“Then, as I was washing my hands, I almost fell into the sink— it was so deep and the faucet so high!”

May 11th in my garden
“I bend to smell dames rocket. Then the onions pop!

September 2nd
“In the Hennis bathroom, I discover I can ‘hold’ the door bumper double image and track my finger with both eyes from 6” to arm’s length at intervals and see the distance between the double doorstop image widen and narrow. Then … I did it smoothly, like a trombone! No big stereo faucet pop after, probably because I was consciously looking for it.”

September 7th with one of our dogs
“Onslo’s nose becomes very long and 3D while we are relaxing on the couch.”

September 28th at Paint Oglebay
“After painting and lunch I tiredly hike up the hill feeling brain-drained and empty-headed, and thought ‘This is how I feel when I see 3D.’ Suddenly all the dead leaves popped out in sculpted beauty and the fronds of undergrowth along the path were moving independently and dancing in their individual spaces as I walked through, very very slowly, like a queen in fairy land.

December 30th
“While in the kitchen pouring, it feels like two eyes see. This is happening more often with space-intensive kitchen tasks.

Later, the folds of the shower curtain fill the space in front of me while I am seated as usual. This is the second or third time the curtain has taken on volume in the semi darkness of the light from an electric candle, just before bedtime.”

December 31st
“In the morning, as I approach the seating area around the wood burner, the angles of the furniture look strange and abnormal. Patrick seems further away and his feet appear larger … Foreshortened more.”

As an artist trained to draw the human figure, foreshortening of arms or legs is rather formulaic for me:closer is drawn bigger and farther away is rendered smaller than the way I see it. However, two or three times this last year, I actually SAW it. When viewed with two eyes, the approaching hand becomes much larger and the receding feet much much smaller.

It’s an apparent exaggeration of what I consider to be reality, from my normal, monocular point of view.

—–

It could be that these sightings are merely “monocular depth perception cues.” I have described many monocular cues here, and even more cues and an excellent post on how they contribute to the “quale” of stereopsis can be discovered at Vision Helps with an awesome link to a computer rendition of kinetic depth cues added to a 2D image here:

However, the fact that these brief glimpses stop me in my tracks and cause me to grope for words to describe what I am seeing is evidence enough that something exceptional is going on, something beyond my normal monocular depth perception cues, something extraordinary, however esoteric it may be.

“… to experience a quale is to know one experiences a quale, and to know all there is to know about that quale.” —wiki