Can you brain train your Lazy Eye back into action?
Your visual system is complex. Really, really complex. Amazingly, fascinatingly complex. It is an area in which creative minds will be busy for centuries to come, trying to understand and model what is happening, how, where and when.
Nevertheless, knowledge is power – and even moderate understanding can lead to a significant increase in your personal ability to understand, experience, and experiment with what your own visual system is capable of.
EyeSkills is an open-source project, but we don’t see that as just being a question of software. These articles are also our attempt to open-source our understanding, axioms, hypothesis, philosophy, hopes, dreams and straightforward guesses! These influences are as much a part of directing the growth of the software as any design document.
If we have misunderstood, or missed, evidence or relevant research… if you have ideas which could lead to improvements – please correct us, inspire us, collaborate with us!
We are building tools to help people with amblyopia and strabismus (lazy eye) have a chance to learn more about their condition, their visual system, and even to open up some opportunities to overcome and even correct their condition.
For many animals with multiple eyes, their brains combine the electrical signals from each eye into a “master” (cyclopic) image which gives them stronger environmental awareness. Sometimes physical problems seem to prevent the emergence of binocular vision, and sometimes it simply never emerges due to poorly understood neurological issues.
After a stressful Christmas preparing this talk, it finally happened.
Here’s an introduction to EyeSkills, what we’ve achieved, where we’re heading, and what we hope to achieve!
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the talk was the resonance it created. We’ve had over thirty people sign up to help as volunteers, over 4 thousand views of the uploaded video, and for a couple of days we were at #7 on HackerNews. Some people are just too kind 😀
The most interesting and important thing of all, was listening to the many people with some form of Lazy Eye share their experiences after the talk. It’s confirming a suspicion that’s been growing for some time, that the term “Lazy Eye” is intellectually far too lazy. There is a large amount of variety in the different symptoms individuals experience, but these seem to be clustering so strongly that it seems possible we are looking at a range of individual disorders which have their own specific differences, under the umbrella of “Lazy Eye”. It is becoming a priority to understand these groupings, so that we can develop more effectively for each specific scenario.
Basic questions remain unanswered about what Lazy Eye really is, and how able different people are to overcome or moderate its effects.
It is our mission to empower the Lazy Eye community to collectively contribute to answering these questions.
For the last years this project has been funded privately, and with the support of the prototypefund.de. We have done this because my wife and I decided it mattered, and we could help make a difference. It has now outgrown us, and our resources. It now needs the right structure which will lead to permanent, ongoing efforts to improve and develop the system.
I believe it is necessary to consider four different groups of people in order to create a self-sustaining eco-system which can accelerate research and best-practice treatment. Here are some of the objectives I believe EyeSkills should strive to reach:
First, we the community, must take on the role of basic experimenters and hypothesis generators. This is why there is a community app for individual exploration and experimentation. An derivative version for community trials/multi-person experiments can be developed from this.
Secondly, we must turn these hypothesise into potential research projects for scientists. It must be simple for researchers to build exactly the experimental environments they need to conduct repeatable open-science. This is why the framework is abstracted out.
Thirdly, we must make best-practice available at affordable levels around the world, which in turns feeds back into cohorts for high-quality science. This will require social entrepreneurship and investment to set up distribution structures.
Finally, armed with hard evidence and professional commercial support, we must shift the treatment paradigm by helping Ophthalmologists move from just treating eyeballs to helping patients train their own visual system – without adding to their already overburdened daily regimes.
I hope you will join us in working to provide a viable alternative paradigm for understanding and working with Lazy Eye.