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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

EyeQ - Reading and Processing Information - How it helped my Sight-Reading

My optometrist suggested that I try the EyeQ (vision therapy) program since it has been some time since I finished working on PTSII. I decided to spend a couple of months working on it and stop the practice of sight-reading just to see if I would be able to transfer the therapy alone to my sight-reading. As you know, while I worked on PTSII, I practiced sight-reading everyday.
At first, I didn't think EyeQ was going to help me because it is much more focused on text reading. However, to my surprise, I again experienced incredible improvements even without my daily practice. The exercises are not half as interesting as the ones on PTSII, but I benefited a lot from the fast pace: it improved my reaction time and information processing, expanded my peripheral vision, and I benefited a lot from the exercises where the eyes have to follow objects horizontally, vertically, and diagonally.
EyeQ trains your eyes and brain to work together more effectively. According to other people who went through this program, improving eye-brain processing showed improvements not only on text reading, but sports, music, and typing abilities.
The program was developed by Dr. Akihiro Kowamura in the 80s. Today, it is widely used in Japanese schools. According to the manual, our reading abilities are impaired by narrow field of vision, sub-vocalization* and weak eye muscles. (EyeQ exercises six sets of eye muscles).
There are 12 exercise sessions (7 minutes long) and three levels according to your age. Each session starts and ends with a reading speed test. Typically, there are 3 stages: warm up exercises which are designed to strength the muscles and expand you visual field, super fast exercises, and finally the speed of the exercises drops to a moderate pace.

There is a Personal Training Center where you can design your own therapy which includes:
- Eye Exercises: horizontal, vertical, and diagonal saccades and expanding circles and squares to improve peripheral vision.
- Maze Games: your eyes have to solve mazes in order to activate the right brain and scanning abilities.
- Number Finding Games: improves scanning abilities. (After a lot of training, I was able to see the whole page at once. It is remarkable.)
- Two Point Training: it is supposed to be one of the most effective ways to improve reading. In this exercise, each line begins and ends with a square and you have to move your eyes as fast as possible from the left square to the right without reading the words. I would like to hear form a person who has succeeded in doing this exercise. To me, it remains impossible to achieve the goal unless you have bionic eyes.
- Comprehension Test: you can choose a short piece to read and be tested by answering 10 questions about the text.

Tracking Progress:
Your progress is automatically recorded in a chart.

A poster with a case report about my results after vision therapy is going to be presented by Dr Jeniffer Simonson at the 2011 COVD meeting this coming October.

*I confess I am still not able to break the sub-vocalization habits.


3 comments:

  1. Cynthia,

    I just completed the EyeQ online course. Like you, I never got much faster on the two-point training exercises. It was somewhat reassuring to learn that you were able to benefit from the course overall despite not showing speed increases in the two-point training.

    My goal was unrelated to music. I merely wanted to read faster. It is not clear to me that EyeQ has helped me in that regard.

    There has been a lot of interesting research lately on "retrieval practice." It seems like the best way to learn written material is to read it. Then, with the book closed, spend a few minutes writing everything you can remember of what you read. Then reread it. Then write everything down again.

    EyeQ seems to focus too narrowly on the physiological aspects of reading. There seems to be a cognitive side that it gives short shrift to.

    The older speed-reading methods would stress the importance of multiple readings.

    Anyway, I am glad to hear that EyeQ worked well for you. The online course lasts for one year. I have many more months left in my subscription. So, I am still hoping to have greater improvements.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,
      You are right! The EyeQ program never corrected my sub-vocalization habits. Sub-vocalization slows me down substantially.Therefore, I did not show improvements in reading text.However,I did improved my sight-reading skills. In my experience, PTSII program was much more helpful because it emphasizes, just as you mentioned above, other cognitive skills such as Information Processing (the ability our brain has to perceive, understand, store and respond to information collected by our five senses), Temporal Visual Processing (the means by which readers process brief short stimuli and rapid sequences of information while reading), and Working Memory. Working memory (buffers) is the ability to retain information in our memory while simultaneously processing other material. This is exactly what musicians do while sight-reading.
      Please keep in mind that before doing the EyeQ, I went through the whole PTSII program (with much better results) and one hour daily of sight-reading practice which might explain the different results I had.
      I really like your comments and will look at the retrieval practice research you have mentioned.
      Thanks. Keep in touch.
      Cynthia

      Delete
    2. Hi,
      You are right! The EyeQ program never corrected my sub-vocalization habits. Sub-vocalization slows me down substantially.Therefore, I did not show improvements in reading text. However,I did improved my sight-reading skills. In my experience, PTSII program was much more helpful because it emphasizes, just as you mentioned above, other cognitive skills such as Information Processing (the ability our brain has to perceive, understand, store and respond to information collected by our five senses), Temporal Visual Processing (the means by which readers process brief short stimuli and rapid sequences of information while reading), and Working Memory. Working memory (buffers) is the ability to retain information in our memory while simultaneously processing other material. This is exactly what musicians do while sight-reading.
      Please keep in mind that before doing the EyeQ, I went through the whole PTSII program (with much better results) and one hour daily of sight-reading practice which might explain the different results I had.
      I really like your comments and will look at the retrieval practice research you have mentioned.
      Thanks. Keep in touch.

      Delete