September 2011 was a magical month for me, because it is when I first began to see 3D. One day I was painting (painting my chickens’ hen house) and as I looked up and the handle of this painting tool was right in my 3D ‘sweet spot’, where both of my eyes work together, binocularly.
I was astounded. Seeing this handle in 3D was unlike any other 3D experience I have had at the vision therapy office or at home doing homework. All of those 3D experiences are more like 2D flat images popping out at me.
Seeing this handle floating in front of my face was indescribable, yet I will attempt to describe it.
It was like I was seeing the handle from two different angles at the same time:
it made me think of this quote from Dr. Len Press’s VisionHelp blog:
As the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty famously said, vision is the brain’s way of touching.
For the first time in my life, my mind was seeing 3D in real life, and I could experience the handle, its size and shape, with my mind.
It was like seeing a cup of coffee…and smelling it.
It was like biting and apple…and tasting it.
It was seeing an object in space and understanding where in space it is–not using ‘monocular clues’ like seeing objects overlapping. I could see depth because I could see 3D because my eyes were working together!
After I told Jeri, my vision therapist, this exciting news, she gave me an unusual homework assignment–go to the theater and watch a 3D movie. It is easy for her to assign activities to work on 3D vision up close, but it is difficult to work on 3D vision at distance.
I took my two sons and we watched The Lion King, wearing our Real3D polarized glasses. The 3D previews were incredible, with the Disney castle in the middle of space flying towards the audience and little sparkly stars occupying space behind it, and in front of our faces. I was so overwhelmed with sensation and 3D appreciation–this new experience wholly enveloping me, I was on the verge of tears. It was such an all-encompassing, novel, and profoundly real experience that was also unbelievable.
The actual Lion King movie, however, was slightly disappointing in the 3D department for me. The first 10-15 minutes offered some 3D grass in front of the animals, but I think two things contributed to the blah-ness of the 3D: my eyes are not binocular professionals, and they got tired. Also, The Lion King was originally a 2D movie, and maybe when the studio transforms a 2D movie into 3D, there isn’t that much 3D-ness to enhance in the first place.
During the middle of the movie, I had to take my son to the bathroom. When we returned to the theatre, as I was walking down the aisle, the 3D popped on the screen for me again. It made me think about Jeri who is always saying, ‘movement is good for strabs.’
I really wanted to pace up and down the aisle. But I restrained myself.
I left that theater waiting for the rest of my life to slowly pop into 3D, just like the painting tool handle.
At home, I was drinking from a glass of water. I realized: the front of the glass is in 3D, and the back is not. The contrast between the two perceptions, at the same time as I sip from the glass, is phenomenal. The back of the glass looks exactly like it does in this picture, but the front part is curved, real, existing, actual, and so different than the other side.
I think the whole glass is not in 3D for me because my 3D abilities are so new and undeveloped. I have a ‘sweet spot’ where my eyes are looking at the object in a binocular way, and I am not seeing binocularly in front of that point or behind that point.
Another part of my 3D vision: it is blurry. When I ‘clear’ it, or strain my eyes so that the object is no longer blurry, I feel my left eye zoom towards my nose and the object doubles (double vision.) The Lion King movie wasn’t blurry, and the painting tool wasn’t blurry, but usually up-close things I can see in 3D are blurry. Acquiring 3D vision isn’t exactly a completely predictable, incremental process. It comes in fits and starts.
And you cannot predict what your first 3D experience will be. I would have never guessed ‘painting tool’.