Hello everyone! I am posting this in the hope that it will help stereoblindness sufferers start their path to seeing in three dimensions. I have been training myself for the last ten months now (since avatar let me down that first time) to see the stereoscopic world. I had cataracts, lazy eye, and seven surgeries to my eyes before I was five, and since then my right eye has been dominant over my left, and I have seen the world as flat. This post is copied directly from a private message I sent to someone who had seen my earlier, probably prematurely excited, post http://www.mtbs3d.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7136&start=0&hilit=stereoblindness
. I've learned a lot since then, and my method still basically boils down to practice and repitition, but it's worked. The world in three dimensions opens up in a way I doubt you can understand unless you've been limited for most of your life to two. So I'm sure there are better, more efficient, more medically reasoned out ways to do this, but here's my account of how I personally learned to see with stereoscopic vision.
Everything from here out, unless noted, is from my private message to progrob:
Hey! I'd love to help out but I am not sure if I am the most reliable source, which of course would be an eye doctor! That said, the reason we both looked online is because that is prohibitively expensive.
I'm sure having had stereoscopic vision when you were younger is a good sign of hope for you. When I watch stuff in 3d nowadays I sometimes feel a nostalgic wistfulness that makes me think maybe I really did see the world in three dimensions when I was younger as well.
That post I wrote, I need to reread since I posted it so long ago and I don't remember exactly how much I said. But I'm not going to since I'm still a little drunk from an early happy hour.
Well in that post I think I jumped the gun a bit, I was just beginning to see things in stereo, and while that was a huge revelation, only recently have I begun to see a level of detail in the depth that I would qualify as true stereoscopic vision.
The number one thing I did was buy my eDimensional shutter glasses and use them with my compatible 85hz projector. If there is any way you can get a hold of some sort of stereoscopic viewing system beyond anaglyph, do it. I started at the very beginning with an old CRT and the 100 dollar wired ED glasses. I think the main thing that helped me was just practice practice practice. I found every stereo video online, from low quality YouTube clips to decent quality movie clips and stereo shorts. Then I watched them all, over and over. Many many times I wouldn't even see any stereo, but there would be short glimpses now and then that kept me going. The main problem with this is simply the lack of quantity and variety of available stereo footage, but over the last ten months I have built a decent collection. 3d bluray is probably awesome but simply out of my price range.
I also went and saw every stereo movie out in theaters. Avoid conversions! If the Avatar rerelease is out in your tone, watch it! It's the best stereo content out there and the easiest to view, at least for me. Try out different seats when you go to the theater, distance makes a huge difference. Sitting very close helped me at first but it did not take long for my eyes to get sore. To use binocular vision you are going to be exercising eye muscles you didn't release you had. This is probably one of the most difficult things to overcome, your eyes simply don't know how to focus on a stereo object.
My eyes are actually vertically out of alignment. After so many years of seeing the world with one eye and ignoring the other, i simply stopped using the muscle and learning how to focus and align it correctly. I still sometimes must concentrate to figure out which distance an object is at, and then whether to converge or diverge my eyes.
The one "exercise" I found really helpful outside of constant stereo content viewing helps this muscle training, as well as getting your brain used to the idea of seeing double. One of my big revelations I had a few months back was that when you focus on a near object, you will see double the objects behind it. I had had it in my head that once I saw proper stereo everything from each would fuse together in seamless harmony, but this is not the case.
I found this exercise online and I would look it up now but I am on an android phone, hopefully I can find the link and add it later, but let me describe it to you.
[Note: This wasn't my original link, but it's the same idea. http://www.stereoscopynews.com/hotnews/history/market-a-trends/800-stereo-blind-.html
I guess it's actually a depth test, but it definitely helped me figure out how to move my muscles and focus on letting my brain see each image at the same time. Of course this may not work for you, and it may not work at first! It took me weeks, but like everything it takes time and practice and dedication and it may NEVER work for you. I always knew I was improving marginally but I never knew throughout this process if I was being productive or wasting my time. It was frustrating and frequently when my stereo vision would suddenly stop working for a week, I almost gave it all up. Fair warning to everyone!]
First, hold your finger about six inches to a foot in front of your eyes, so it's very close. Then pick a very distinct object in the background, something small and easy to notice across the room. A black vase or small painting on a white wall, anything that is small and has a strong contrast to the environment around it will work. The website simply had a small dot on the screen to use, but I like to practice it any time of day if I have a moment. Now hold the finger in between your eyes and this faraway "dot" object. Focus both eyes on the finger. If you can do this correctly you should see one image of your finger and two of your background "dot." move your finger so that it is in the middle of the double vision you have of this object. Once you can focus on your finger and see the two "dots" around it, change your focus to the dots, and your eyes should now diverge. Do this so you see one image of the "dot" object but two images of your finger surround it. Once you can do this just practice switching back and forth, as wellness holding the focus at each distance as long as you can.
For a person with normal stereo vision this is a simple exercise that should come very naturally, but don't be discouraged if you can't do it right away. At first I could only see the image of my finger produced from my dominant right eye, then eventually I learned to shift the image to that of my non-dominant left eye, and eventually after a week or two I managed to force my brain to see both images at once. That's the essence of learning to see in stereo if both of your eyes work, forcing your brain to interpret them simultaneously.
Once I got that exercise working, my stereo vision improved dramatically, and I could watch a stereo video and interpret the basic depth cues. That is probably around the time I made my post, in my hasty excitement. Over time and with lots of repititive viewing of stereo content, my stereo acuity has been improving monthly. I am sure I'd be further along if my glasses hadn't broke right around the time I got jumped and assaulted while working and couldn't afford or do much of anything getting surgeries and laying around on painkillers. Haha but that's a personal digression.
So once I was able to do that exercise (and frequently to get those muscles working!) my brain got better at interpreting depth cues, but since it must relearn it all you really have to focus on it. It has been frustrating and never easy and I sometimes had multiple week periods where I would lose my ability to see 3d for no apparent reason. Don't give up hope if this happens, it's like anything, where if you just leave it alone to gestate for a while you can come back and for whatever reason your brain has subconsciously worked it out.
Now I am at the point where if the separation and viewing distance are right I can see not only depth cues, but actual volume quite nicely. For the first few months When i would see stereoscopic video things looked more like flat cut outs than voluminous objects, but at the time I did not even realize this. I had quite a few moments where I would see 3d with a sudden new clarity and level of depth that would make me exclaim "wow, so THIS is what I was missing!" only to have any jump in clarity a week later. So even when you start to see it and are underwhelmed, keep on going because when you really see it for the first with a new level of depth and volume, you WILL know. I may have cried in excitement (and relief) a few times on this journey.
So that's a chronicle of the path I have taken to learning stereo vision, it's been slow and difficult and there isn't much specific advice I can give you. I have put so many hours into viewing boring content with dimensions I wasn't seeing to get to this point that I'm rather embarrassed to admit it to friends here in real life. If you have any questions I will follow the thread closely since there is clearly so much interest, and I'm sure to think of some more interesting bits I missed typing this up.
Actually I would like to add another quick note right now, on anaglyph. If you are using "real" 3d methods like active shutter or polarized (and you should I'd possible), and you do suddenly find yourself losing the ability to see stereoscopically, or are finding it difficult, try out anaglyphic viewing. You have to make sure that if you're getting a lot of ghosting in the anaglyph that you adjust your monitors color settings to eliminate it. I also recommend the optimized anaglyph setting thats availsble on youtube and in the Stereoscopic Player (must have and worth the money.) This mode removes some color information but eliminates that strong red and blues that create conflicts between your eyes and makes traditional anaglyph such a headache. Nothing will ruin stereo vision like ghosting. Once you get the settings right anaglyph can be quite convincing. I found that it actually would work better for me than the more modern true color stereo methods. My best guess is that with the two very different color lenses my brain was sort of trained to realize it was viewing 3d content and needed to turn on stereo mode to combine the colors as well as the images. Either way it was usually good to mix some anaglyph in to get my brain recharged during difficult periods. Make sure you have a pair of glasses with a dark blue lens, some of the lighter cyan lenses just always allow unacceptable ghosting.
Okay, that's really it for now. I hope my description of the focus and muscle exercise made sense and please ask questions, I'm happy to do my best to help other people overcome this problem. Once you can see three dimensions on the screen, you can see them in the real world as well. Its like a switch, I still default to 2d right eye viewing, but if I focus I can turn on my stereo sense and suddenly the world opens up with so much SPACE I feel like it's going to swallow me up. You can't understand how liberating and freeing that is unless you've felt it yourself. And to all the stereoblind people reading this, I really hope you work for it. For me, it was worth it a thousand times.