The power of the brain

Did you ever notice your vision getting significantly worse in the (late) evening? You’ve had a good day vision wise. Active focus happened easily and automatically all day and there was no significant amount double vision. Then suddenly in the evening while watching TV you start to notice considerable double vision. You just can’t get those subtitles to clear up no matter how much you try to use active focus. Trying only seems to make it worse. So, what happened? Did your eyes suddenly get worse? Of course not. There is obviously a lot less light in the evening, but on other evenings that didn’t cause any big problems for your vision. Now, if you’ve spent a lot of time looking at a (phone) screen that day, the answer could be a ciliary spasm. But what if you haven’t? What if you spent most time outside practicing active focus and getting lots of distance vision? The answer is obvious, but easily overlooked. You’re just tired! Practicing active focus for an extended period of time will cause fatigue. Some people say “my eyes are tired”. That’s probably true. All muscles get tired after intensive use, so the eye muscles are probably no different in that respect. But what is often overlooked is the brain!

The amount of processing that happens in the brain is just astounding. Your visual cortex is constantly processing images from both eyes, compensating for any imperfections in the images received though the retina, filling in blanks, and combining the images from both eyes into what we perceive as one 3D picture. And all of this happens in real time, from millisecond to millisecond. You probably know it takes a pretty powerful computer and graphics card to get smooth real time image processing. Well, the brain does all of that and much, much more. While the visual cortex handles the image processing, the part of your motor cortex that is responsible for the eyes constantly causes your eye muscles to direct your eyes to whatever it is you want to look at, converging and diverging the angle between your eyes, focusing your lens, contracting and dilating you pupil to adjust to needs of each moment. Just think about the amount of energy needed for all these tasks. And I’ve only discussed some of the things concerning vision. But all other bodily functions are also regulated by your brain! And now you’re adding even more to that workload by walking around under corrected and basically telling your brain: “I don’t care how you do it, but you’d better make sure those images are clear!” :wink: Your brain can and will do this to the best of its abilities, because that’s its job, but it will eventually get tired (especially when you’ve just reduced your prescription)… The role of the brain is something we tend to take for granted. We usually are totally unaware of all the image processing that goes on there, unless something goes wrong (we suddenly get double vision for instance) or we are confronted with some optical illusion devised fool the brain.

When people start out on this vision improvement journey they usually focus completely on the eyes and the physical aspects of vision. I know I did… But our visual system is more than just our two eyeballs. The brain is where the real magic happens! Bates understood this and put great emphasis on mental aspects of vision (I intend to write another post about some of the important insights of Bates soon). My point for now is: when the brain is tired, all mental processes (including the image processing in the visual cortex) slow down and glitches become more and more frequent. So, when you notice your vision getting worse in the evening and those subtitles getting harder to read, take this as a sign that your brain needs rest. Instead of trying harder and harder to get active focus to work again, turn off that TV and go to bed. And don’t worry about what might feel like a setback. You’ll find that after a good night of sleep everything will work again just fine.

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Very interesting post.

In sports like weightlifting you can get central nervous system “CNS” fatigue or muscular fatigue. A lot of the training is for the CNS. In fact if you hook up electrodes to your muscles you can make them work even if you’re too tired to move. There are psychological limitations in place that keep you from being able use your maximum strength to rip your limbs out of your sockets even if your muscles are already strong enough to do that. People who are electrocuted can have their muscles fire with much more strength than they can muster and can dislocate their limbs or break their bones.

You’re right, the eyes are just part of the system that make vision possible. The physical strength available or “hardware” in the eyes isn’t necessarily the limiting factor.

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Practically what we call “eye” is just a round lens (with some adjustment mechanism) before our brain :slight_smile:

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Interesting, I’ve never heard that before. But I can see how this might be possible. I’ve also heard of instances where people were capable to muster incredible physical strength in life or death situations, caused an intense adrenaline rush. So yes, the our physical potential may be much greater than we realize under normal circumstances.

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I read somewhere that the retina is actually an extension of the brain tissue. :slight_smile: But I think you’re doing your poor eyeballs injustice by saying they’re just lens with an adjustment system. The eye in itself is a marvelous piece of equipment. No camera can do what our eyes can do naturally.

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This is such an interesting thread. I’m just starting on the journey but have done some reading on brain trauma/injury and how it effects (affects? i always got these two words confused) different parts of your body including eyes, fine and gross motor, etc. A lady i know fell and had a bad concussion last year. She found that due to this she had some significant set backs in regards to her sight, reading and writing. She showed some of the exercises she was asked to do. Some of the exercises were some that I have come across when looking into natural vision improvement/bates method.

I think we sometimes look at problems we have as isolated issues, ie Heart, nervous system, eyesight (eyes) when sometimes we have to look more holistically. To be honest, because of discussions with her and my own history of injury and possible brain trauma I’m starting to wonder if part of my struggle with sight has been a direct result of these things and that more healing needs to be done at the brain level in order to move forward.

I will be eagerly watching this thread for any little tidbits of information that might come up! Seriously, this forum has some of the most intelligent people I have ever come across!

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Brain trauma can of course lead to all kinds of nasty effects. And those can vary greatly depending on which part of the brain was injured. I haven’t heard of brain injury causing myopia (but then I’ve never really studied the subject). I did follow an online course about neurology a few yeas ago, because I find it a very fascinating topic. When there is damage to the visual cortex, this can lead to very weird effects, like someone becoming completely unaware of one half of the visual field (when the damage is located in the visual cortex on one side of the brain). But I could also imagine that an injury to the part of the motor cortex that’s responsible for controlling the focusing muscles could lead to myopia like symptoms. So it could be a contributing factor. You should ask yourself whether your vision problems started or got significantly worse after your injury.

Of course a neurologist should be able to tell you what part of the brain has suffered damage, and what the consequences could be. So if you haven’t already seen one, it might be a good idea to do that.

Anyway, good luck with your vision improvement journey, and I hope your not suffering from anything more serious than simple myopia.

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You would think, but no :slight_smile: Most camera lens system has better optics than our eyes. The magic starts and happens on the retina. In almost every aspect our eyes are better than a random camera is only because of the retina and the visual cortex. But the “raw image” reaching the retina is pretty horrible.

Yes I guess it would be nice to have a 30 megapixel retina that consisted of cones only. :grin: But then we’d be completely blind in (very) low light.

Talking about the power of mind / brain as the third participant in the party, this is from my updates:

Note to myself: The “no outdoor time, no good quality and quantity of sleep, lots of screen time” ended in a spooky experience. I had to visit a new area a few times, so there was nothing familiar there. Due to exhaustion I was not surprised to find that shop signs on the opposite side of the road were blurry. So blurry I could not even separate the letters. Still, I had “mind flashes”. The text didn’t clear up, but suddenly I knew what was on the sign, and walking a lot closer I could finally check it with reading the then still not sharp blurry text. Tell me about the power of the mind when trained well on EM :smiley:

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I had/have the problem that my vision gets significantly bad when the lighting is not as bright as outside or in the morning. Here were I live autums are dark and cloudy winters the same, long and dark. I stuggled a lot because I always had to “switch back " my glasses to a higher diopter at the winters, and I often “lost” my summer gains. But after I started to” train" my cortex and eyes in the dark it got significantly better; my progress is also faster. I practice activ focus or at least I try active focusing at night in the completely dark room for a good 30 min. I just look around and observ my surroundings.it helped me greatly.

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@Emoke, I actually started this whole process last winter, so this year will be my first autumn & winter while I’m well underway with my improvement. I’m curious about how well that will go. Time will tell, I guess…

Hi, Thank you for your thoughtful and thorough posts to this forum. I read in one of your posts that natural vision improvement has become a hobby for you. I think it has become that for me as well. I realise that some people have enough hobbies and commitments and don’t need to delve deep. Frankly adding healthy eye habits into their lifestyle uses enough brain space of most people with full-time job, family and community commitments. A year ago, I would have been that way too. Happily, now that I don’t work full-time and NZ lockdown has given me back a heap of time, I am able to indulge my curiosity and feed my research habit. Again, @mbassano, thank you for your thought provoking and well researched posts to the discussion forum. Regards, ALISON.

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Yes, for me this is very easy to incorporate in my life. I already used to take long walks before I started to improve my vision. So all I had to do was to incorporate active focus and bit more awareness of my surroundings to start improving. I’m always amazed about how simple it really is and how improvement happens practically automatically. Sure there are good days and there are bad days… The last couple of days my vision hasn’t been as good as I know it can be. But I can attribute that to the fact that I haven’t slept very well for the last couple of nights, so it’s nothing to worry about. Last night I slept better, so I expect to see some improvement on my walk today… :slight_smile:

EDIT:
Sure enough, a good night of sleep has restored my vision back to the level I’m expecting. :grin:

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