Optical Reality Check (ORC)


The Optical Reality Check (ORC) is a simple and versatile means of performing a reality check.

It is especially useful for those who wear glasses or suffer from a treatable visual impairment.

This form of reality check was discovered/invented by Daniel Love in the mid 1980s as a result of his own visual impairment, namely the limited eyesight in his left eye. 

This reality check technique is incredibly simple and takes advantage of the natural instability of the dream world, the differences between the physical and dream body, and the propensity for dreams to fill-in-the-blanks.

Daniel's original and personal version of ORC simply involved him covering or closing his right eye in order to test the clarity of vision in his less functional left eye. In waking reality his vision would, predictably, be blurred; but in dreams his vision would remain clear.  Such fundamental and testable differences between the waking and dreaming world are the core principle behind all reliable reality checks. 

Due to the differences in most people's visual acuity, ORC may require a little creativity in order to find the most effective version to match your visual abilities or limitations.  


The Technique

For The Visually Impaired (adapt to your own requirements)

1. Establish your visual limitations — Should you wear prescription glasses or have poorer eyesight in one eye, take notice of the difference between your corrected vision and your natural abilities. For most, this is as simple as noticing the difference in vision between wearing your glasses or not.  Remember this difference as it is your key to testing whether you are dreaming.

2. Regularly question if you are dreaming — As with all reality check techniques, throughout daylight hours regularly question if you may be dreaming. Follow the principles outlined here.

3. When questioning your reality, test the difference between your corrected and natural vision — Whenever you think that you might be dreaming, simply test the difference between your corrected and natural vision: For example, lift your glasses or cover your dominant eye. During waking hours the visual impairment will remain, when dreaming your vision should remain clear and corrected.

For those without Visual Impairment - Technique #1

1. Become aware of your stereoscopic vision — During waking hours, hold your index finger at eye level. Stare at your finger and repeatedly cycle between closing your left and right eye. Notice how your finger, and the scene, "jumps" back and forth depending upon which eye is open. Take a mental note of this stereoscopic visual effect. 

2. Regularly question if you are dreaming
— As with all reality check techniques, throughout daylight hours regularly question if you may be dreaming. Follow the principles outlined here.

3. Test your stereoscopic vision — Whenever you question if you are dreaming, perform the stereoscopic test outlined in step one. In waking reality, your finger will "jump", during dreams this effect will either be lacking or hugely distorted.  

For those without Visual Impairment - Technique #2

1.  Obtain a coloured lens — Obtain a small coloured transparent lens, such as a pair of tinted sun glasses (not darkened, simply a coloured tint).  The coloured film lens from a pair of old fashioned 3D glasses would work well.

2. Test your vision — Notice the difference between looking through the coloured lens and your unfiltered vision.  Hold the lens so it fills your entire vision. Close one eye if necessary. 

3. Regularly question if you are dreaming — As with all reality check techniques, throughout daylight hours regularly question if you may be dreaming. Follow the principles outlined here.

4. Test with the lens — Carry the coloured lens with you at all times. Whenever you need to question your reality, look at the world without the filter, and then with it. Do this several times and pay attention to the results. If the filter behaves as expected (as in stage 2), you are awake. If there is any difference whatsoever, then you're dreaming. Differences include: the filter changing colour, the filter not working, the filter distorting your vision in unexpected ways.


Daniel Love

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Hints & Tips:

  • This is a perfect and unobtrusive reality check for anyone using prescription glasses or with a corrected visual impairment.

  • Be sure to be creative and to adapt this technique to your own visual abilities and limitations.

  • Remember, the principle is simple: In dreams visual impairments are rarely replicated. When they are, they are noticeably different from what you would experience during waking hours. 

  • As vision is the primary sense in dreams, increasing your attention and awareness of your visual experience of the world can greatly increase your ability to notice other subtle differences in dreams (dream signs) and to become lucid more often.

  • Many lucid dreamers have independently discovered ORC in their own lucid dream explorations. This is rare among reality check techniques, and lends ORC a great deal of credence as a stable and natural reality check. 


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