Sunday, April 26, 2015

Vision Therapy Reader - A free vision therapy reading appliction

A few years ago, when I was learning computer programming, I practiced my skills by creating a text reader application. I wanted to make an electronic version of a bar reader. A bar reader is a vision therapy tool that forces you to use your eyes together when reading. You can see an example of a bar reader on this lovely vision therapy blog here.

I never got around to releasing my application because I was being a perfectionist and I never felt like it was quite done. It was never quite perfect. But now I've decided to release it, in case it can help someone. It certainly can't help anyone just sitting on my computer.

When I wrote this program, I didn't know anything about web programming. So it's not a web app; you can't play it in your browser. You have to download it. I'd like to eventually make it a web app, but until then...

 How to install and open Vision Therapy Reader
  1. Install Python
    • Vision Therapy Reader is written in Python (a computer programming language). To use it, you must have Python installed on your computer.
    •  There are two version of Python: Python 2 and Python 3. Choose whichever version you like - it doesn't matter for my program.
    • Python is available for many operating systems - Windows, Mac, etc... Theoretically, my program should work on Mac. But I've only been able to test it on Windows so far.
    • Download Python
  2. Download Vision Therapy Reader
  3. Unzip the file
  4. If you installed Python 2, open the python2 folder. If you installed Python 3, open the python3 folder.
  5. Click on
How to use Vision Therapy Reader
You need red/green or red/blue vision therapy glasses.

You need some text. You can paste your own text in, or load a text file (.txt). Both options are located in the FILE menu.

Pasting text
You also need to calibrate the application colors to your specific monitor and glasses. In the COLORS menu, click CALIBRATE COLORS.

Calibrating the colors

There are two palettes available - red/blue and purple/teal. BOTH work with red/green or red/blue glasses. Try both and see which works best for you.
Now that you're all set up, you can play around with the options.
 Bar reader
You can use the bar reader.
You can change the palette between red/blue and purple/teal.
You can change the width and spacing of the bars. You can make fat bars, thin bars, far bars, close bars, whatever your heart (or eyes) desire. You can also play with the font.
 Color reader

You can use the color reader, where instead of bars, uses colored text.

Like the bar reader, you can play with the palette and the font.

You can also change how to text is colored. The words can be different colors, or the individual letters can be different colors.

You can include an "anchor" color, which both eyes can see.

I hope someone out there finds this application helpful. Let me know if it helps you, or if you're using it in your VT office. I love to hear that stuff :)

Spelling Bee - A free vision therapy video game

Play Spelling Bee here

I've finished another vision therapy video game!

A game about spelling! And bees! (not really)

  • Google Chrome web browser
    • This game uses a fairly new feature, canvas blend modes, and in my experience, this works best in Chrome
    • Canvas blend modes are supported in Firefox, but it seems SLOW on my laptop
    • Canvas blend modes are supposed to work in Safari, but I've never tried it
    • Canvas blend modes are NOT currently supported in Internet Explorer
  • Red/green or red/blue vision therapy glasses


A spinning hexagon bounces around the screen. Inside the hexagon is a word.
  • If the word is spelled correctly, press UP
  • If the word is spelled incorrectly, press DOWN
  • If you need some more visual feedback, press LEFT or RIGHT to move the cursor underneath the word

  • Color calibration
  • Adjustable
    • time limit
    • size
    • speed
    • bounce pattern
  • Convergence / divergence
  • Three color palettes
  • Graph of hits/misses

Color calibration
To calibrate the colors to your specific glasses and computer monitor, just follow the easy color calibration instructions. 

Fully adjustable
Adjust the size, speed, bounce pattern, and time limit to suit your needs. 

Convergence or divergence
This game can be used for convergence or divergence vision therapy exercises. Just adjust the settings in the menu. Note: the numbers in the convergence/divergence settings are NOT prism diopters. They are just arbitrary numbers, based on pixels measurements.

Three Color Palettes
You can play with Red Blue Black, Purple Teal Gray, or Red Green Orange graphics. ALL work with your standard anaglyph glasses. Try all the palettes, and see which work best for you.

Graph of hits / misses
As you play Spelling Bee, the game keeps track of your correct and incorrect answers (hits and misses). After the game is finished, you can see in what areas of the screen you are getting correct answers, and you can see in what areas of the screen that you are getting wrong answers. This can help you find your strong / weak areas of binocular tracking.

Options menu

Graph of correct answers

Vision Therapy Goals
My main goals for this game are:

  • Binocular tracking
  • Antisuppression

In conclusion
Try out my binocular tracking game Spelling Bee and let me know what you think. Good luck!

Play Spelling Bee here

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Space Owl - A free vision therapy video game

Play Space Owl here

It's long been my dream to create a vision therapy video game.... And I've finally learned enough about computer programming to make it happen!

Here's the result...

A game about an owl in space!

  • Modern, up-to-date web browser
    • I've tested it on Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. It works on all three, although the menu looks a little uglier on IE.
    • I haven't tested it with Safari (because I don't have a Mac handy), but it's supposed to work with Safari. If there are any bugs, please let me know.
    • This game uses HTML5, which requires the latest versions of web browsers.
  • Red/blue or red/green vision therapy glasses

  • Collect gems
  • Avoid enemies
  • When enough gems have been collected, you gain a point
  • When you gain a point, something cool happens!
  • Try to gain as many points as possible before time runs out

  • Color calibration
  • Adjustable game speed
  • Adjustable time limit
  • Binocular OR monocular
  • Two color palettes

Color Calibration
To calibrate the colors to your specific glasses and computer monitor, just follow the easy color calibration instructions.

Fully Adjustable
Adjust the speed and time limit of the game to suit your needs.

Binocular or Monocular
This game can be used for binocular vision therapy exercises, requiring both eyes, or for monocular vision therapy activities, focusing on one eye. Just change the settings in the options menu.

Two Color Palettes
You can play with Red Blue graphics or Purple Teal graphics.

BOTH palettes work with your standard anaglyph glasses. Through your glasses, the Red Blue graphics have a white-on-black appearance, while the Purple Teal have a black-on-white appearance.

Try both options and see which you prefer. Depending on your monitor, you may have better cancellation with one palette vs the other.

Vision Therapy Goals
My main goals for this game are:
  • Anti-suppression
  • Forcing both eyes to work together
Some graphics in the game can only be seen with the right eye. Some graphics can only been seen with the left eye. Therefore, both eyes are forced to work together to complete the game. If both eyes are not used together, then the game is impossible.
Some secondary vision therapy goals that may be addressed by this game are:
  • tracking the player around the screen
  • estimating distances between player, enemies, gems
  • soft, peripheral focus when paying attention to incoming gems and enemies
  • saccades when glancing around screen to look how many points you have or to see the time remaining

Visual Anchors
Sometimes gems appear that can be seen by both eyes. This gives each eye an "anchor" to lock on to, and can make accurate fusion easier.

The game provides feedback when the player does something good or makes a mistake. When the player collects a gem, a nice sound effect plays. When the player collides with an enemy, a bad sound effect plays AND the player and all enemies become temporarily visible to both eyes.

Above, you can see in the second frame that, when the player collides with an enemy, the players and the enemies turn white, becoming visible to both eyes. This gives the player feedback about where his/her eyes were really pointing.

"Loading" is a term for adding increased layers of difficulty to a vision therapy activity. This "shakes up" the visual system, and forces the brain to adapt and learn new skills. I have tried to "shake up" this game in the following ways:

  • The direction that enemies and gems fall from changes periodically, creating a shifting and unstable environment. The player must constantly adapt. Enemies and gems may come from above, below, left, or right.
  • After a collision between the player and the enemy, there is a chance for the player and the enemies to swap colors. Suddenly, the blue player may turn red, and the red enemies may turn blue. The graphics visible to the right eye are now only visible to the left eye, and vice versa. Therefore, the player cannot get too comfortable and must learn to adapt.
Above, you can see that after the player has collided with the enemies, the colors of the player and enemies have swapped.

In conclusion
You still need to do vision therapy exercises in real space, moving your eyes and body around together, focusing on different distances, converging, diverging, etc... But now you have the option to play a fun video game, too. Please leave any comments or suggestions below, I would love to hear what you think about the game and how you are using it. I'm still tweaking it, and maybe I'll add music. But please, check it out and use it :)

Play Space Owl here

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My first 3D movie experience

Last night, I saw Gravity in Imax 3D.

I've tried seeing 3D movies before, with no results, but I thought I would try again in light of my recent experiences with small amounts of 3D vision.

Before the movie started, there was a little intro for Imax 3D. You know, showing the logo, making a deafening noise, things like that. At the end of the intro, the camera zoomed into the Imax logo. Suddenly I felt my eyes start to cross, and I got the sensation that something was going to hit me in the face. I immediately tore the 3D glasses off my face in a panic. I can't even remember what I actually saw; I just remember the feeling.

After that, I thought, 'Wow! This is going to be an exciting movie!' But then... it really wasn't. The actual movie seemed kind of flat. And sometimes, with the white-suited astronauts on the black background of space, there was a lot of ghosting. C'mon Imax, can't you figure out how to show 3D without ghosting?

About halfway through the movie, I remember that I still had the blurry stick-on eye patches in my front pocket. So I stuck those to my glasses, to make the movie a bit softer. That seemed to help.

Sometimes, when the camera would show the inside of a space shuttle, it seemed like I was looking through a window into a real room. It looked clearer and more real. It only happened when the camera showed a small crowded room, like a space shuttle... I don't know why. Maybe it had something to do with the presence of lines of perspective and other monocular depth cues, which might have helped me add some depth. Just a theory.

And at one point, there was a tool floating around the inside of the space shuttle. It started floating towards that camera and, like the Imax logo, I thought it was going to hit me in the face. I gripped the arm rests and forced myself to watch it come at my face and I actually saw it coming out at me. Hurray!

So that's what happened at the 3D movies - flat the majority of the time, but there was a scary Imax logo, realistic/weird looking views into a space shuttle, and the floating tool coming out to hit me in the face.

Also, it was a good movie!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vision therapy works and it's contagious

I started working at my optometrist's office a couple of days a week, helping out with some IT / database stuff. I'm on the computer the majority of the time, and I know it doesn't sound that exciting, but it has been... awesome. Just being in proximity to the VT office has affected me so much.

First of all, in two weeks, I've already met... I think five... strabismic patients who are seeing / starting to see in stereo. One patient developed the ability to see random-dot stereograms after SIX WEEKS of vision therapy. From no depth to rand-dot in six weeks is unheard of. To make it even more amazing, this patient had an ophthalmologist tell her and her parents that she was incurable.

It's really heartening to see all these successes. Strabismus really IS curable through vision therapy. Stereo Sue isn't a fluke. I would get on my hands and knees and beg every parent out there to never, ever let an ophthalmologist operate on their child's eyes without trying vision therapy first.

Secondly, being in this vision therapy environment has started to change my own vision habits. Being around the optometrist, the vision therapist, the patients, the equipment, the employees... Hearing snippets of vision therapy in action... "is it double or single?", "keep your head straight!"... It's all starting to make me more conscious of my eyes and my posture. I kind of feel like a hypocrite, walking around the office while letting my eye wander out and standing at weird off-center angles while talking to people. I feel like, since all the patients are trying to keep their eyes straight and their posture correct, then I should too. I should set a good example, right? So I've been trying to keep my eyes and face centered on what I'm looking at, at least when I'm in the VT office...
And then yesterday, something happened... I was having a conversation with a guy at the office and trying to be conscious to point both of my eyes at him. Suddenly I started to feel sick to my stomach. The hand that he was gesturing with looked weird. Kind of... more in front of his body than usual. His nose was looking weird, too. Extra triangular. It all just looked weird in a subtle way and it felt like I was getting punched in the gut.

I think I was starting to see in 3D a little bit...

I kept this information to myself for the day. I didn't want to claim that something happened if I was really just imagining it...

But then, while driving down the highway the past couple days, I would practice bringing my eyes together... And sometimes things looked "weird" again. The autumn trees were... bushier... clumpier... But only sometimes. And I thought to myself, well maybe I'm just paying attention to trees more. Maybe I'm imagining it and trees have always looked like that...

Full of strabismic doubt....

But then I started to thinking - I've seen so many successes at work. What if I just decide to believe myself? What if I just believe that it is possible? What if I just believe what I see? I've seen so many successes lately - why can't I be one of them?

So during my lunch break, I shared what I was experiencing with the vision therapist. "You're starting to see it, aren't you?" she said. We went over to the big flat screen TV, put on the shutter glasses, and started up some VT software.

(Actually I was wearing something extra besides the LCD shutter glasses and my prescription glasses. I remembered that I saw some depth once while wearing blurry contacts, so I tried to do something similar but less messy. I used those translucent plastic blurry eye patches that stick directly to your glasses - I put them on both lenses of my own glasses. Voila - blurry, soft vision.)

As the program started up, I mentally told myself "Stop doubting everything you see. Believe your eyes. Believe that you saw some depth in the clumpy trees and that guy's triangle-beak nose. Keep everything soft and relaxed and trust your eyes."

We started with the picture of the big rings that most people in vision therapy are familiar with (quoits):

I stuck my arm up to the monitor, putting my hand right in the center of the ring... And, weirdly, it FELT like my arm was going through a hole in the TV screen. When touching the center of the TV, the ring seemed to be at the level of my forearm. It wasn't "floating" or "popping out" really... Yet... somehow the ring was at the middle of my arm and my arm was going deep into the TV. It even seemed like it was possible for me to put my hand in through the hole and go behind the ring.


Then we switched to a 3D picture full of sea animals. And some fish were clearly closer than other fish! I could answer most of the questions correctly. And once, when I manipulated the pictures so that I was converging A LOT, one of the fish REALLY jumped out for a second. But just a second.

Then lunch was over and a patient came in and it was time for me to get back to working on the database. And all this eye stuff was kind of giving me a headache... The end.

I'm still mentally processing what happened today... I really did see in 3D... I'm coming to believe that doubt, mistrust, and negativity are a big hindrance to succeeding in vision therapy. Sometimes you just have to trust what your eyes are showing you. Stop discounting the positive.