Lately, I've been feeling like I have hit a plateau. I was getting used to the fast progress I made in the beginning of vision therapy, and I was hoping that every week I would continue to go into the VT office and say "Wow, Denise, guess what happened this week!" It hasn't been like that lately, though. It's more like, "Wow, Denise! I discovered a weakness that I need to work on!" Oh well. At least I'm learning something.
I've been doing some monocular work to improve my amblyopic, jerky left eye, like tracking a Marsden ball, putting pegs in a rotator board (and then putting ping pong balls on top of the pegs), and tracking the monster that the lives on the end of the pencil.
I've also been taking the polarized quoits vectogram home and desperately trying to see depth in it. Not much luck so far. I put a red square attached to a transparency behind the two sliding quoits to act as a fixed reference point in terms of depth, and I actually did see the square receding and the quoits approaching, and vice versa. Nothing ever left the page or jumped out, though. It was like watching the action happen inside of a fish tank, with nothing ever breaking though the glass. But I was still cautiously excited about that.
When I showed my vision therapist my trick, she wasn't so sure about it. Putting the red square behind the quoits messed up her vision so much that she really couldn't see anything, and said "If I don't see it, I'm not sure what you're seeing..." So I decided to give up playing around with those quoits for a while.
I was reading about monocular VT activities in Strabismus and Amblyopia, by Dr. Getz. Some activities involve tracking a crazy line all over a piece of paper, and some involve "o-filling", which is carefully filling in all the 'o's and closed loops (such as the loops in a, b, d, e, g, etc) in a block of text. As a graduate student, I often have hundreds of pages of academic articles to read every week. So I thought to myself, why don't I make that into a vision therapy activity? Isn't tracking text as good as tracking crazy lines or "o-filling"? This is what I came up with:
1. Sit centered and with good posture in front of whatever boring homework that you are reading. Make a conscious effort to keep your head straight. Do not do the strabby head tilt. If needed, wear a halo vest.
2. Patch the weak eye. Read with the good eye for 5 minutes.
3. Patch to the good eye. Read with the weak eye for 10 minutes.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for as long as homework (or sanity) lasts.
Reading with my amblyopic eye is not easy. My eye is jumpy while moving from word to word and the letters look harsh and jittery and just plain weird. I also have trouble understanding what I have read, which I did not expect. Words are words, right? Why are they harder to process in one eye? I'm sure it's some brain thing. It always is.
I'm also curious as to why I have never seen this exercise in an vision therapy text. It seems like reading with your amblyopic eye would be an easy (in terms of materials) and useful exercise.
I'm guessing that the reason I haven't seen it before is either that it's not useful for some reason - it's too passive, or it doesn't have any motor feedback, or it has some sort of detrimental effect that I haven't predicted (intractable diplopia? a renewed hatred for reading?) or something like that.
That it's left out because most vision therapy exercises are developed with children in mind, and no one considered the case of the poor graduate student who has to read all day.
A question for my vision therapist and optometrist readers out there: do you think that practicing reading with your amblyopic eye is a good VT exercise?