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In An Eye Experiment Begins, I’d wondered if my eyesight would improve by spending an hour a day reading on my computer with one eye. A friend from opera practice had indicated to me that he had some success with this method, so I was eager to test it out. Unfortunately, I ran into some trouble as detailed in Eye Experiment Update in being able to devote an hour per day consistently to the task. However, I kept at it every few days while on the train to work, standing in line, etc. I tried to squeeze in some “eye training” every time I’m idling and not doing much. So if you’re around San Jose and see a guy looking at you strangely with one eye closed … um… that’s probably me. Oh, and I probably really can’t see you :-)

Therefore, instead of reporting per week, I shall report every few weeks. It looks like this experiment may become a somewhat long term pursuit!

There have definitely been some very interesting results since my last update.

In Eye Experiment Observations Part I, I’d noted that there was occasionally a kind of a “zooming” effect where things became momentarily clearer while everything around it became blurrier. I attempted to reproduce this effect for a few days, hoping that it would occur more frequently or with more ease. Because I need to make sure I don’t squint by accident while performing this experiment, I did this with the little green power light on my computer monitor. With a single light source, it would appear to me as a circle of lights if my eyes are completely open, but as a “line” of lights if my eyes are squinting.

Every day before bed, I would cover my left eye with my palm and stare at the little green light. It would start off as a circle of lights that seem to be pulsing a bit (getting larger and smaller with a set pattern). As time passed, the circle would occasionally shrink by about 25-50%, with the light becoming clearer and everything else becoming blurrier. I felt like it was becoming slightly more frequent, but it’s hard to say because that could just be me projecting what I want to happen!

In addition to using the light, I also read text from my laptop while covering my left eye. I put the black text on the page just slightly out of my focal range and tried to focus on it. Since my focal range is only about 10 or so centimeters, the screen was “somewhat” close to my face :-)

One day, I finished my experiment at around 1 am. The room was dark save a few rays of light from the lamps outside my apartment barely creeping through the blinds. As I removed my hand from my left eye, it felt like I was blind in one of my eyes!! There was a distinct feeling of the two eyes seeing drastically different things. “What is going on?!” I’d thought.

I closed one eye at a time to see if I could “shed some light” on the situation. With my right eye closed, I could see the shady outlines of my couch and bed. However, with my left eye closed, I couldn’t see the couch at all! As you can imagine, it was a bit alarming for me, although I was pretty sure my eyesight would return to normal eventually.

This particular phenomenon supports the theory that this zooming effect is a result of the movements of the iris muscles. By focusing on the light, I may have been telling the iris muscles to close the pupils (just as would naturally happen if it suddenly got brighter around me). Since I was staring at a light, it would make sense that as the pupil closes, other things would become blurrier (since less light from them is reaching my eye) while the light becomes clearer (and probably less bright – but since it’s a light, I probably don’t notice that). After the hour of “training”, perhaps my pupils were stuck in a more contracted state, making everything clearer but darker! However, I do recall looking at myself in the mirror while this was occurring and didn’t seem to have noticed a difference in the size of my pupils.

Another theory might be that somehow, such exposure to light may have somehow damaged some of the nerve endings on my retina, much like looking directly at the sun would. For days afterwards, the colors from my left and right eyes were slightly different, and the image from the right eye would always be slightly darker than my left eye. I’m not sure if that was purely from the experiment though. My eye doctor had performed an eye scan when this experiment began and I recall hearing that the nerve cluster on one of my eyes is less than that of the other eye, so it may well be that it was always like this and I just didn’t notice.

On another note, there was one day that I was practicing on the train and got some positive results! As I got off the train and put on my glasses, I noticed that things in the distance were very clear! They weren’t 20/20, but definitely a lot clearer than the previous few times that I looked around. I would like to attribute it to something I did of course, but it could just be that particular day was brighter. Or perhaps, it was just one of the other many factors that affect how clearly you see.

Luckily, I’d established a controlled set of conditions from my eye exam when this experiment began, so I’ll go back some time next year to see if anything has changed. Until then, I will stop staring at light sources in case it does somehow damage my retina, and stick more with more “mudane” objects like signs on trains and text on paper! That way, my eyes won’t be overexposed to potentially harmful sources of radiation for prolonged periods of time.

Actually, while writing this, an interesting thought struck me. Is it because we do stare at harmful sources of radiation (such as computer screens and TVs) all day long that our eyes adapted by making things blurrier (and by doing so, spreading the radiation over a wider area)?

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