up home page bottom

Monday, November 19, 2007

Super eyesight!

The Eurasian eagle owl can see 10 times better than the human eye during daytime. It can see 100 times better at night. It can pick up the sound of a twig snapped under the feet of a rodent 15 ft away and under 2 ft of snow. An entertaining thought then occured to me that perhaps the three principles of natural vision is what the owl has already possessed naturally. These are movement, centralization and relaxation.

The idea behind the first principle - movement, is that the 'world is continuously moving and it is harmful to locked fixedly on an object to see it.' So, habits such as staring and straining (to read or see clearly) are bad and will lower your vision. The Bates method teaches oppositional movement whereby you see an object with the appearance that it is moving in the opposite direction. For example, when you are walking along a street, the objects seem to move in opposite direction to where you are going. When you are reading, the page seems to move in a direction opposite to that of your eye.

The second principle says that instead of trying to see everything at once, you should centralize your vision. Centralize means to put your visual attention, or interest, at a small, central point at any particular moment, while the area surrounding it will appear less clear and less colorful. Again, staring is a bad habit as it diffuses your visual area rather than centralize your vision to a small point of interest - in fact, very likely you are not interested in what you are seeing....and it (staring) can invite you some social problems too.

The word here is centralize and not concentrate, as concentrating will imply using effort. Using effort to see is not what the third principle is all about. Relaxation is the key here. In fact, relaxation is the key to many areas to peak performance in many human endeavors. When you strain to see, you lower you sight. Bates stated that most vision problems are due to strain. Believe it or not, what we always thought were bad reading conditions such as low light, fine prints or reading while commuting, Bates claims that these actually provide opportunities to master greater levels of relaxation, and hence improving your natural eyesight.

I went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park with Zoey last week and sat for the bird show. The trainer proudly described the abilities of the birds. Do you know what is the fastest animal on earth? Nope, the cheetah is the fastest land animal. When she mentioned the visual acuity of the owl, it gave me some encouragement - that the eye can see further than the human visual range hints to me that nothing is impossible. They don't need no glasses, neither do you, heh. Also, predatory animals have better visual acuity than the non-predatory ones; well, their eyes are adapted to their environment, of course. So, it comes as no surprise that since leaves and grass stay put, non-predatory animals don't need super eyesights to survive. Predatory animals like the Eurasian eagle owl, on the hand, need to hunt for food - and food is very fast moving - so having superior senses like abilities to see far and clearly are a matter of life and death. Nah, owls don't need those thick glasses you sometimes see in cartoons.

Below is an illustration of the view range for the owl (source: www.owlpages.com). As you can see the binocular view is 70 degrees. That is the region where perception of 3D or depth is the greatest. By comparison, humans have a field of view that covers 180 degrees, with 140 degrees being binocular. A woodcock has an amazing 360 degree field of view, because its eyes are on the side of its head. However, less than 10 degrees of this is binocular. Okay, woodcock is non-vegetarian; they feed on invertebrates which hardly move.

If I am permitted to make a connection with this observation and the second principle of natural vision - so perhaps there is a benefit in adopting centralization in your visual habit. Perhaps there is truth in the first principle as well - therefore training yourself to experience oppositional movement in your visual habit is like learning what Mother Nature has taught owls and other similar animals to do. Finally, be cool about it. Learn to relax. One of the things to observe while relaxing is your breathing. And that will be my next topic in another post.