Author Topic: Mercurial's vision efforts  (Read 4795 times)

Offline Mercurial

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Mercurial's vision efforts
« on: September 30, 2011, 11:28:07 PM »
Hello all,

I've been adopting a number of Todd's suggestions as experiments.  Many of them have turned out marvelously for me.  Intermittent fasting is the most marked, I think; I've been doing that for about two months now and I love it!  It wiped out my chronic fatigue and helped me to sleep better, it freed me from any relationship between time and meals, it dropped a lot of inflammation, it got me from an okay body weight to a pretty much perfect one (a 20-pound difference), and it has this promise of longevity that's at least as good as calorie restriction.  I'm quite pleased!

I did cold showers for a few weeks, but I had to quit those because of my eczema.  My hands started blistering and cracking too much from too frequent exposure to water.  Gloves helped only to a small degree.  I also started getting really cold more and more often.  This was from before intermittent fasting, so I really don't know what to make of it.  I'll experiment with it again after I've gotten at least one more set of blood work done at the lab to check that the intermittent fasting isn't depleting anything important.

I've also been doing the slow-cadence weight-lifting with the inverted pyramid.  I'd love to do interval training but I have an injury in my ankles that I've been trying to address first.  I think I'm finally ready to start doing interval training on a bicycle, and then I'll push that up to running after my ankles are strong enough.

However, I expect I'll provide updates for those things somewhat infrequently.  For me my main source of weakness I'm trying to fix is my eyesight.  I currently test with a Snellen rating of about 20/200.  (I say "about" because I can read both characters of my Snellen's 20/200 chart but I have a really hard time with the 20/100 level.  So I'm somewhere in between, for which there's no Snellen line even at my eye doctor's office.)  I don't have a written copy of my most recent prescription on hand at the moment, but it's somewhere around -2.50 for the left eye and -2.75 for the right eye.  I have a very slight astigmatism in each eye, but it's very slight.  I also seem to be a bit "wall-eyed" at times, but that's also pretty slight.

I've been doing the print-pushing and frequent distance-gazing for about a week now.  I can feel something happening to my eyes, but I'm not entirely sure what it is yet.  I do know that my glasses no longer feel comfortable to wear most of the time; I can feel them doing the opposite of whatever the print-pushing is doing.

To be a little more specific, I'm making sure that whenever possible I do close work at what Todd calls D2 (very slight blur) and try to clear it.  I often do this with a +1.00 lens (from the dollar store).  I used to wear an eyepatch to cover my left eye at times to work on my weaker right eye, but both eyes seem to be on the same page now.  Wearing the plus lenses makes me put my face pretty close to the screen in order to get it at D2, but that's kind of okay really; it feels on my eyes like it's doing better than trying to find D2 without glasses despite the posture on my neck feeling better.  I also try to take frequent breaks that involve my eyes looking in the distance, such as doing sword practice or just walking around the neighborhood and looking at faraway trees and buildings.  And, of course, I avoid wearing my minus lenses as much as possible.  (Oddly, despite my horrid Snellen rating, I seem to be able to do without them while driving in the day.  I only need them at nighttime and when socializing in a party setting so that I can see others' eye cues.)

I intend to do this at least until I'm done with my graduate program come May 2012.  If I see relevant improvement, I intend to continue until my vision is as good as it was before my thirteenth birthday.  (I'm not sure what my Snellen was then, but if I recall correctly I could read words from a page of text someone was reading ten blocks away when I was a kid.  I used to be really confused about what telescopes were for because I thought you could just look at faraway objects without making them big through the telescope.  I was pretty depressed when I realized my vision was deteriorating.)

I'll try to offer updates here as I progress - and I certainly welcome commentary.

Thank you for having a forum dedicated to the art and science of getting stronger!

~Mercurial

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Mercurial's vision efforts
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2011, 10:54:59 AM »
Intermittent fasting...wiped out my chronic fatigue and helped me to sleep better, it freed me from any relationship between time and meals, it dropped a lot of inflammation, it got me from an okay body weight to a pretty much perfect one (a 20-pound difference), and it has this promise of longevity that's at least as good as calorie restriction.  I'm quite pleased!

Wonderful to hear this, Mercurial!

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I did cold showers for a few weeks, but I had to quit those because of my eczema.  My hands started blistering and cracking too much from too frequent exposure to water.  Gloves helped only to a small degree.  I also started getting really cold more and more often.  This was from before intermittent fasting, so I really don't know what to make of it.  I'll experiment with it again after I've gotten at least one more set of blood work done at the lab to check that the intermittent fasting isn't depleting anything important.

Some people have noted that intermittent fasting makes them feel colder, speculating that fasting may slow thyroid function, so you may want to have that included in your blood work.  From reading various sites, I gather that this effect tends to be transient and corrects itself after a while.  Exercise can help, as can increasing the amount of fat in the diet.  I find that coconut oil is particularly energizing.

The skin blistering or cracking could be due to letting your skin get too dry.  Try using a moisturizing cream, or even a "barrier" like Vaseline to help retain moisture.

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For me my main source of weakness I'm trying to fix is my eyesight...I've been doing the print-pushing and frequent distance-gazing for about a week now.  I can feel something happening to my eyes, but I'm not entirely sure what it is yet.  I do know that my glasses no longer feel comfortable to wear most of the time; I can feel them doing the opposite of whatever the print-pushing is doing...Wearing the plus lenses makes me put my face pretty close to the screen in order to get it at D2, but that's kind of okay really; it feels on my eyes like it's doing better than trying to find D2 without glasses despite the posture on my neck feeling better.  I also try to take frequent breaks that involve my eyes looking in the distance, such as doing sword practice or just walking around the neighborhood and looking at faraway trees and buildings.  And, of course, I avoid wearing my minus lenses as much as possible.  (Oddly, despite my horrid Snellen rating, I seem to be able to do without them while driving in the day.  I only need them at nighttime and when socializing in a party setting so that I can see others' eye cues.)

The changes and sensations you report are all quite positive. It sounds to me that you are on the verge of progress! Plus lens therapy is typically a longer, more arduous road to walk than that of many other types of physical improvement, such as the response of muscles to weightlifting. Improvement in eyesight is not always predictable. It seems to progress in fits and spurts, with long plateaus interspersed between sudden, sometimes dramatic improvements.  Keep on the lookout for occasional flashes of clarity or "double vision" where you see sharp lines superimposed over blurrier images. These can be signs that a positive change is about to happen.

I wish you the best and hope you will keep checking in to report your progress.

Todd

Offline Mercurial

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Re: Mercurial's vision efforts
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2011, 10:55:50 AM »
Some people have noted that intermittent fasting makes them feel colder, speculating that fasting may slow thyroid function, so you may want to have that included in your blood work.  From reading various sites, I gather that this effect tends to be transient and corrects itself after a while.  Exercise can help, as can increasing the amount of fat in the diet.  I find that coconut oil is particularly energizing.

Thanks for the suggestions.  In this case, though, I'm completely sure the problem can't be from fasting.  I experimented with cold showers for a while - and was really enjoying them! - before I started intermittent fasting.  I stopped the cold showers due to getting cold in the water way too quickly, and then about a month later I started intermittent fasting.

I should also note that this problem appeared last summer, too.  I wasn't able to last as long in the ocean water as my wife, even though in the past I've tended to have much better thermal endurance.  I really have very little idea what's going on with that.

Thyroid tests are part of the blood panel I'm getting.  Thanks for pointing out the need to include those, though.  :)

And yes, I love coconut oil!  I probably have it too often; it's just so wonderfully convenient, especially since I can't do any form of dairy on a regular basis.  So, most of my oil comes from avocados, nuts, olive oil, and coconut oil.

The skin blistering or cracking could be due to letting your skin get too dry.  Try using a moisturizing cream, or even a "barrier" like Vaseline to help retain moisture.

Yep!  I'm quite familiar with these issues.  I've had this problem with eczema (or psoriasis?  It's just tagged as "dermatitis", which I think just means that the skin inflames) since July 2009.  I have no idea what triggered it, but avoiding letting it ever get wet is by far the best thing I've found for it, followed closely by getting the hands dry as quickly as possible and then putting on moisturizer.  I've tried Aquaphor on a dermatologist's recommendation, and it actually makes the problem worse for some reason I can't fathom.

The changes and sensations you report are all quite positive. It sounds to me that you are on the verge of progress! Plus lens therapy is typically a longer, more arduous road to walk than that of many other types of physical improvement, such as the response of muscles to weightlifting. Improvement in eyesight is not always predictable. It seems to progress in fits and spurts, with long plateaus interspersed between sudden, sometimes dramatic improvements.  Keep on the lookout for occasional flashes of clarity or "double vision" where you see sharp lines superimposed over blurrier images. These can be signs that a positive change is about to happen.

I think I know what you're talking about, but it's hard for me to tell.  I can generate a kind of "double vision" at will, mainly by blinking in a particular way that involves squeezing my eyelids shut and slightly crossing my eyes.  (I had to deduce that I was crossing my eyes.  It just feels like blinking hard in a weird way to me.)  I've found that as I've been doing this plus-lens therapy and avoiding wearing my glasses, the sharp part of the double-vision has been slowly getting a little brighter, and the double-vision effect lasts longer.  (It used to last between a half of a second and two seconds.  Now it goes as long as five seconds, and once it lasted somewhere around ten seconds.)

Thank you for the encouragement.  :)

I wish you the best and hope you will keep checking in to report your progress.

Certainly!

At the start of October I had to wear my glasses for a few days due to attending a conference.  My vision is bad enough that I can't read PowerPoint presentations fast enough to keep up with the presentation, even sitting as close as I can.  So, since my contributions were expected, I had to wear my glasses for about three days.  I took them off whenever I could and put them on only when reading the slides or when engaged in discussion.  (It's very hard for me to read people's facial expressions without my glasses, and that has some significant social consequences.  Sometimes I actually cannot hear what people are saying without my glasses on!)

As a result of that, most of these sensations I was describing before vanished.  I'm only just now starting to get them back.  There's a kind of intentional shift in how I "push" my eyes while using the plus lenses that I had basically forgotten how to do for over a week after I got back from the conference.  I'm doing it regularly now (including at the moment!) and I'm just now getting my progress back.

I've come to notice how bad my eye habits really are as a result of this.  Before the conference I was making a special point of getting up every 10-15 minutes to do some kind of physical activity that involves my eyes looking in the distance.  After I came back, I settled back into my habitual routine and discovered that if I don't consciously remind myself to take those breaks, I'll just stare at the computer screen without any more than a casual glance away for over two hours!  :o  No wonder my eyes went so myopic!  All my work is on my computer, so over the last fifteen-ish years I must have been practicing precisely the opposite of print-pushing for somewhere around eight hours every day!

(On the positive side, I can almost get my eyes to bring my nose into sharp focus.  I'm not sure what good that does me, but there you go!)

I do notice a huge difference in my eyes' abilities in the morning versus the evening.  First thing in the morning, my right eye is noticeably worse than my left, and it's hard to use the plus lenses to look at the laptop screen.  By about noon I can usually sit relatively upright with the plus lenses on.  (Still forward, but definitely farther back than in the morning.)  By the evening, my eyes are more evenly balanced and I can read books at D2 at almost a full arm's length away with the plus lenses on.  It's still effortful, but it's doable - which is novel.  :)

So in short: slight backsliding, but for very obvious reasons that are being corrected.  And noticeable progress throughout the course of a given day.  :)

Offline Mercurial

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Re: Mercurial's vision efforts
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 02:02:46 PM »
I suppose it's time for an update!

For quite a while I've felt like I haven't been making much progress.  I've started to wonder if computer screens just don't provide nearly as much benefit as physical paper (like books) do when doing print-pushing.  But I have to work at a computer most of the time, and I'm determined to give this a solid go, so I've been continuing to use my plus lenses diligently.  I've recently started putting more time into reading printed work since I can feel the effect that's having on my eyes (whereas using a plus lens at my computer seems to encourage weak posture in order to keep everything at the edge of blur).

That said, today I just measured my Snellen and discovered that I'm easily down to 20/100!  And both eyes are now relatively even.  My right eye is still a little weaker first thing in the morning, but I find I don't need to use the eyepatch to get my eyes to balance out.  They just do so on their own within the first hour of work.  It's not perfect, but it's close enough that I'm okay with the tiny difference.  And they seem to be getting stronger at about the same rate (maybe because my weaker eye is my dominant one?).

I've noticed that it's actually kind of difficult for me to tell where the "edge of blur" is without any plus lenses on.  The point is quite dramatic with +1 lenses, but with the naked eye and especially with minus lenses I find it's hard to tell whether I'm at the edge of blur or not.  That double-image thing makes it really confusing because one image will be way out of focus while the other image will be totally in focus.  That makes it pretty much impossible to train both images at the same time.

I've also noticed that some double-images come from the astigmatism while others come from the fact that my eyes have trouble coordinating when the object in question is blurry.  I can tell which kind of double-image I'm looking at only by (1) covering one eye and then the other to see what, if anything, vanishes; and (2) tilting my head to see if the images rotate (so that they're always, say, at a diagonal with respect to my visual field).  If it does neither of those, I think that means it's the ghosting image Todd referred to.

I've been driving without glasses most of the time now.  I always keep them handy while driving, and often at nighttime I keep them on the tip of my nose or just wear them normally just to be careful.  But by and large, I can get away with driving just fine without glasses.  I noticed that I have a habit of staring at the road about one or two car lengths ahead rather than looking out to the horizon in the direction of travel; fixing that makes my eyes relax and seems to make the minus lenses less uncomfortable when I do need to wear them.

I still sometimes wear my minus lenses when socializing, especially in the evening.  I actually have a hard time hearing what people are saying when I can't see them clearly.  :P  But I minimize that, and I find I don't need the glasses as much if the lighting is bright.

Onward!

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Mercurial's vision efforts
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2011, 09:22:25 AM »
For quite a while I've felt like I haven't been making much progress....I've recently started putting more time into reading printed work since I can feel the effect that's having on my eyes (whereas using a plus lens at my computer seems to encourage weak posture in order to keep everything at the edge of blur). That said, today I just measured my Snellen and discovered that I'm easily down to 20/100!  And both eyes are now relatively even.

That's great to hear, Mercurial - 20/100 already! I And it is interesting that the printed page works better for you than a computer screen.

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I've noticed that it's actually kind of difficult for me to tell where the "edge of blur" is without any plus lenses on.  The point is quite dramatic with +1 lenses, but with the naked eye and especially with minus lenses I find it's hard to tell whether I'm at the edge of blur or not.  

If you are not sure that you are at the edge of blur, you are probably not there yet.  Push back farther until you can definitely detect some loss of sharpness, but still read comfortably.  And see if the print tends to sharpen up with time and occasional blinking.

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That double-image thing makes it really confusing because one image will be way out of focus while the other image will be totally in focus.  That makes it pretty much impossible to train both images at the same time.I've also noticed that some double-images come from the astigmatism while others come from the fact that my eyes have trouble coordinating when the object in question is blurry.  I can tell which kind of double-image I'm looking at only by (1) covering one eye and then the other to see what, if anything, vanishes; and (2) tilting my head to see if the images rotate (so that they're always, say, at a diagonal with respect to my visual field).  If it does neither of those, I think that means it's the ghosting image Todd referred to.

I would not worry too much about whether one or both eyes are seeing the double-image.  The key point is what kind of double-image you are seeing.  What I am talking about is not a conflict or misalignment between the two eyes, but rather what any individual eye sees when the other is covered.  Specifically, what I mean by "double-image" is a simultaneous superposition of a blur and sharp image of the same object.  For example, if you are looking at a window edge or a telephone wire you will see a very crisp sharp line at the same place where you also see a somewhat blurred edge.  Whether that is in one eye or both.   The key point is to fix your attention as much as possible on the sharp aspect of the image and ignore the blur.  By mentally focusing on the sharp aspect, I notice that it tends to become more prominent.  By this action, I believe you are reinforcing growth of those retinal receptor structures that lie within the focal plane of the eye, so that they will become progressively more prominent with time.  This is obviously a very slow process, so be patient.  You will find that week by week the sharp aspect of the image gradually becomes stronger and the blurred part retreats.  Again, whether it happens in one eye or both, it is still progress.

I would love to get confirmation from you or others that you have the same experience that I did.

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I've been driving without glasses most of the time now.  I always keep them handy while driving, and often at nighttime I keep them on the tip of my nose or just wear them normally just to be careful.  But by and large, I can get away with driving just fine without glasses.  I noticed that I have a habit of staring at the road about one or two car lengths ahead rather than looking out to the horizon in the direction of travel; fixing that makes my eyes relax and seems to make the minus lenses less uncomfortable when I do need to wear them.

What you are doing is exactly what I did. I hesitate to recommend it to anyone, because I realize there is some risk involved.  But like you, when I still wore glasses, I always had them handy when I got into traffic or tricky driving. I found that I could read license plate numbers and road signs at progressively longer distances in the daytime, starting at perhaps 5 car lengths, and then getting longer. And I really found it beneficial to drive without glasses at night because the tail-lights on cars provide excellent training for sharpening the eyes on the sharp aspect of double-vision images.  I know this might sound risky to some, but I was very careful to be sure I could see very sharply many car lengths ahead.

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I still sometimes wear my minus lenses when socializing, especially in the evening.  I actually have a hard time hearing what people are saying when I can't see them clearly.  :P  But I minimize that, and I find I don't need the glasses as much if the lighting is bright.  Onward!

You are definitely making great progress, mercurial!

Offline Mercurial

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Re: Mercurial's vision efforts
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2011, 08:48:48 AM »
Thanks for your feedback, Todd!

Quote from: Todd Becker
it is interesting that the printed page works better for you than a computer screen.

I don't know that it does.  It feels that way, though.  I have much less difficulty finding the edge of blur with printed pages for some reason.

Quote from: Todd Becker
If you are not sure that you are at the edge of blur, you are probably not there yet.  Push back farther until you can definitely detect some loss of sharpness, but still read comfortably.  And see if the print tends to sharpen up with time and occasional blinking.

That's definitely what I do!  It's getting easier to find a "sweet spot" with practice.  The problem for me isn't that I'm not sure whether there's blur, but rather that the blur seems uneven in some sense.  It's like there's smearing before there's blurring.  It's very subtle and seems to be getting less profound with time, though.

Quote from: Todd Becker
I would not worry too much about whether one or both eyes are seeing the double-image.

The only reason I check that is because if the double-image comes from just one eye but rotates when I tilt my head, it must come from the stigmatism rather than from eyesight-improvement.

Quote from: Todd Becker
Specifically, what I mean by "double-image" is a simultaneous superposition of a blur and sharp image of the same object.  For example, if you are looking at a window edge or a telephone wire you will see a very crisp sharp line at the same place where you also see a somewhat blurred edge.

Huh.  Well, then, it's possible I'm not getting the same effect you are.  The crisper object is always a little shifted with respect to the blurred one.  For instance, when waiting at a traffic light, through one eye the light can look like it has one mostly crisp image just to the side of the more usual blurred image, like it's casting a crisp shadow.  It's not a huge offset, but it's enough that from a quarter-mile away I have difficulty telling how many traffic lights there are at a given intersection because I don't always know how many of those that I see are duplicates.

Quote from: Todd Becker
The key point is to fix your attention as much as possible on the sharp aspect of the image and ignore the blur.  By mentally focusing on the sharp aspect, I notice that it tends to become more prominent.

That makes sense, and I've been doing that to good effect.

Quote from: Todd Becker
This is obviously a very slow process, so be patient.

Very much so!  It's slow enough that it's really hard to notice improvement subjectively.  Now I get why you and Otis were emphasizing so much the importance of doing Snellen readings!

Quote from: Todd Becker
What you are doing is exactly what I did.

Great to know!  It's encouraging.  :)

Quote from: Todd Becker
I found that I could read license plate numbers and road signs at progressively longer distances in the daytime, starting at perhaps 5 car lengths, and then getting longer.

Yep, that's exactly my experience too.  Just one to two car's lengths away at first for me, though.  I'm now up to around three.

Quote from: Todd Becker
And I really found it beneficial to drive without glasses at night because the tail-lights on cars provide excellent training for sharpening the eyes on the sharp aspect of double-vision images.

For some incredibly stupid reason, that never occurred to me.  :P  I'll definitely try that!

Quote from: Todd Becker
You are definitely making great progress, mercurial!

Thanks for the support!

A brief update:

I haven't reread my Snellen, so this'll be informal.  Because a few medical emergencies popped up, I've had to wear my glasses more than usual - and as a result my right eye got back out of sync with my left.  It's now noticeably worse again.  At the moment I'm covering the left eye to train the right back up to strength.  The effect is strong enough that my eyes are back to being uneven when I first wake up in the morning.

On this point, I'm hoping for a little guidance.  Somewhere in that huge thread on eye therapy, I think Otis provided a link to someplace online where one can get a $12 pair of minus lenses.  I would love to do that!  Getting -2.00 lenses in both eyes would be just perfect, but I certainly can't afford to do that through an optometrist even though mine would be willing.  Getting rid of the stigmatism adjustment would be helpful, too, so that I'm not inadvertently strengthening that whenever I need to deal with trick driving or social situations.  Unfortunately I'm having trouble finding where Otis gave that link.  Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Thanks in advance!  :)

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Mercurial's vision efforts
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2011, 10:54:07 AM »
The only reason I check that is because if the double-image comes from just one eye but rotates when I tilt my head, it must come from the stigmatism rather than from eyesight-improvement.

I don't know any good methods or exercises that specifically address astigmatism. But it seems that astigmatism tends to weaken as myopia weakens, so I would put your emphasis on myopia reduction and it is likely that your astigmatism will take care of itself.

Quote from: mercurial
The crisper object is always a little shifted with respect to the blurred one.  For instance, when waiting at a traffic light, through one eye the light can look like it has one mostly crisp image just to the side of the more usual blurred image, like it's casting a crisp shadow.  It's not a huge offset, but it's enough that from a quarter-mile away I have difficulty telling how many traffic lights there are at a given intersection because I don't always know how many of those that I see are duplicates.

I wouldn't worry about the slight offset or "duplicates".  As you practice focusing on the sharpest of the images (especially those with sharp edges), the blurry duplicates will become weaker and eventually fade away.

Quote from: mercurial
Somewhere in that huge thread on eye therapy, I think Otis provided a link to someplace online where one can get a $12 pair of minus lenses.  I would love to do that!  Getting -2.00 lenses in both eyes would be just perfect, but I certainly can't afford to do that through an optometrist even though mine would be willing.  Getting rid of the stigmatism adjustment would be helpful, too, so that I'm not inadvertently strengthening that whenever I need to deal with trick driving or social situations.  Unfortunately I'm having trouble finding where Otis gave that link.  Can anyone point me in the right direction?

The inexpensive custom minus lenses can be ordered online at zennioptical.com
Otis has provided that link multiple times.  (See for example http://forum.gettingstronger.org/index.php/topic,8.msg881.html#msg881)

Good luck, and thanks for the update!

Todd