Building Sight Awareness

Let’s spend a moment to look at peripheral vision.

You might be surprised just how much of your eyesight you are missing, in your current lifestyle.  Well over 90% of the natural vision experience is lost, when we combine 8+ hours a day of close-up, TV, and eyeglass frames.  This translates to both tangible myopia, and less tangible but equally important psychological detrimental side effects.

Since we base long term success on habit changes, getting all the right habits in place is key.  And most of them are simple to apply – keeping your prescriptions low enough to challenge yourself, getting lots of distance focus pulling time, and eliminating close-up strain.  These should be basically automatic, after a month or two.

Peripheral vision is often a more tricky one, since we don’t really need it for the bulk of our lifestyle.  But peripheral vision has a notable impact on your eyesight:

  • Myopia can be induced by nothing more than eliminating peripheral vision
  • Your poorest Snellen results are always when there is no peripheral vision available (dark room, bright Snellen)
  • You want to retrain the whole of your eye, not only the central focus area, for best ongoing improvement

I sometimes suggest for higher myopia clients to wear reduced prescription (normalized) contact lenses, while outdoors.  Why?

Glasses can severely limit your peripheral vision.

Especially the current trend for thick plastic frames, combined with myopia over two diopters, create an almost complete barrier to your peripheral vision.  You have a tangible “border” in front of your eyes, and on top of it, everything beyond the border is very blurred.

For low myopes, spending time without glasses, and in your mind “zooming out” to see the whole of your field of vision is all you need.  Doing this while outdoors, for 15-20 minutes a day is lots of good stimulus for your eyes.

And if your myopia is higher, getting an inexpensive contact lens pack to use when you are outside to pull focus, will give you the same benefits.

97% Missed Visual Experience:  Your focused eyesight limits your experience of sight dramatically!

If you want to use contact lenses, here are a few things to consider:

  • You need less prescription strength for contact lenses, than your glasses.
  • If you use the contact lenses primarily for working on your eyesight, reducing net diopters there slightly first can be a useful tactic to get additional active focus challenge during contact lens use.  Of course don’t do this if you’re driving, otherwise in need of full/higher correction – just one possibility to leverage temporary small reduction (we will discuss this further in session #74, “peak diopters”).
  • It’s a good idea not to wear contact lenses for longer periods of time – especially while focused up close (lower blink rate, typically dry air indoor office environments are not a good basis for contact lens wear)

Build habits around:

1.  Create A Full Field Of Vision Environment

As we talked about above, contact lenses are the #1 way to accomplish this.

However, contact lenses are not great for close-up time (unless you are high myopia and really prefer contact lenses).  Distance vision however, if you are already into contact lens wear, is great.

If your myopia is low enough, using no correction and focusing on the full field of view is good stimulus.  Perfect sharpness isn’t a priority.  It’s taking in all the light that your eyes receive, and spending time consciously seeing everything that’s available to you.

2.  Focus On Motion In Your Periphery

Moving tree leaves, wildlife, fish in a fish tank – anything related to movement, observe without turning your head.  You don’t get clear focus from your periphery, so we don’t need to concern ourselves with that at all here.  You just want awareness, and engage your visual cortex in processing this information.

It’s easiest to do this, with motion.  Take some time to observe:  what is moving?  How much information can you get, from defocusing from what’s in front of you, and just experiencing the peripheral information?

Peripheral vision is neglected by many to the point that it is almost completely unused!

The limited field of vision and atrophy this creates, contributes to limiting your sight, including your central focus area. You could be losing as much as -0.75 diopters by not having peripheral vision awareness in at least 20 minutes of your day (and this is generous – consider that your eyes by design include this very large field of view, and how little you actually use it).

3.  Become Aware Of The Sensation Of Wider View

I prefer to be scientific in these guides, and not so much focus on feelings.  But there is no other way to describe this, so please forgive the nature of this piece of advise:

Spend 10 to 15 minutes being in your peripheral vision.  Even if you are in an office, in front of a computer, defocus from time to time, and become simply aware of how much more information is entering your brain, than you consciously perceive.

After several of these awareness moments, ask yourself how your eyeballs feel differently.  Do you notice something akin to a slight tingling sensation on the sides of your head, the outer edges of your eyeball?  Again, I prefer not to talk this way, but it is noteworthy enough to include here.  You should be able to feel a physical sensation of relief, of more light entering your conscious perception, a sense of lightness and pleasure that comes from allowing yourself to see more than just what is right in front of you.

Action Item

1.  Next time you do your outdoor time (you did put that on your schedule, right?), remind yourself to regard your peripheral vision.

While looking ahead, in your “mind’s eye”, consciously perceive what you can see on the periphery of your vision.  Make a mental list of all the things you can see, without turning your eyes.  Make a habit of reminding yourself to check in with your peripheral vision.

2.  Compare your centimeter results after defocusing from your screen (again, just in your mind) and making a mental list of what’s in your peripheral vision.

Once you do that for a few minutes, grab your measuring tape, get to the maximum distance, and see your centimeter results.

Any change?  If so, note in your log.

This will become more effective as you learn active focus.  And we’ll talk about peripheral vision again in future sessions.  For now, you want to get into the habit of realizing you actually have peripheral vision, and consciously engage it by doing quick mental inventory of all the things you can see in your periphery.

Remember to take these sessions slowly enough to where you have each individual experience, and build a bit of a habit around it!

Cheers,

– Jake

Session:  Audio Track

Session:  Video Stream

Heads up!  This video is supplemental only.  Also note that your darling eye guru is taking some liberties playing with the video format.  😉

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Monkey study:  http://courses.endmyopia.org/peripheral-vision-loss/