Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vision therapy works and it's contagious

I started working at my optometrist's office a couple of days a week, helping out with some IT / database stuff. I'm on the computer the majority of the time, and I know it doesn't sound that exciting, but it has been... awesome. Just being in proximity to the VT office has affected me so much.

First of all, in two weeks, I've already met... I think five... strabismic patients who are seeing / starting to see in stereo. One patient developed the ability to see random-dot stereograms after SIX WEEKS of vision therapy. From no depth to rand-dot in six weeks is unheard of. To make it even more amazing, this patient had an ophthalmologist tell her and her parents that she was incurable.

It's really heartening to see all these successes. Strabismus really IS curable through vision therapy. Stereo Sue isn't a fluke. I would get on my hands and knees and beg every parent out there to never, ever let an ophthalmologist operate on their child's eyes without trying vision therapy first.

Secondly, being in this vision therapy environment has started to change my own vision habits. Being around the optometrist, the vision therapist, the patients, the equipment, the employees... Hearing snippets of vision therapy in action... "is it double or single?", "keep your head straight!"... It's all starting to make me more conscious of my eyes and my posture. I kind of feel like a hypocrite, walking around the office while letting my eye wander out and standing at weird off-center angles while talking to people. I feel like, since all the patients are trying to keep their eyes straight and their posture correct, then I should too. I should set a good example, right? So I've been trying to keep my eyes and face centered on what I'm looking at, at least when I'm in the VT office...
And then yesterday, something happened... I was having a conversation with a guy at the office and trying to be conscious to point both of my eyes at him. Suddenly I started to feel sick to my stomach. The hand that he was gesturing with looked weird. Kind of... more in front of his body than usual. His nose was looking weird, too. Extra triangular. It all just looked weird in a subtle way and it felt like I was getting punched in the gut.

I think I was starting to see in 3D a little bit...

I kept this information to myself for the day. I didn't want to claim that something happened if I was really just imagining it...

But then, while driving down the highway the past couple days, I would practice bringing my eyes together... And sometimes things looked "weird" again. The autumn trees were... bushier... clumpier... But only sometimes. And I thought to myself, well maybe I'm just paying attention to trees more. Maybe I'm imagining it and trees have always looked like that...

Full of strabismic doubt....

But then I started to thinking - I've seen so many successes at work. What if I just decide to believe myself? What if I just believe that it is possible? What if I just believe what I see? I've seen so many successes lately - why can't I be one of them?

So during my lunch break, I shared what I was experiencing with the vision therapist. "You're starting to see it, aren't you?" she said. We went over to the big flat screen TV, put on the shutter glasses, and started up some VT software.

(Actually I was wearing something extra besides the LCD shutter glasses and my prescription glasses. I remembered that I saw some depth once while wearing blurry contacts, so I tried to do something similar but less messy. I used those translucent plastic blurry eye patches that stick directly to your glasses - I put them on both lenses of my own glasses. Voila - blurry, soft vision.)

As the program started up, I mentally told myself "Stop doubting everything you see. Believe your eyes. Believe that you saw some depth in the clumpy trees and that guy's triangle-beak nose. Keep everything soft and relaxed and trust your eyes."

We started with the picture of the big rings that most people in vision therapy are familiar with (quoits):

I stuck my arm up to the monitor, putting my hand right in the center of the ring... And, weirdly, it FELT like my arm was going through a hole in the TV screen. When touching the center of the TV, the ring seemed to be at the level of my forearm. It wasn't "floating" or "popping out" really... Yet... somehow the ring was at the middle of my arm and my arm was going deep into the TV. It even seemed like it was possible for me to put my hand in through the hole and go behind the ring.


Then we switched to a 3D picture full of sea animals. And some fish were clearly closer than other fish! I could answer most of the questions correctly. And once, when I manipulated the pictures so that I was converging A LOT, one of the fish REALLY jumped out for a second. But just a second.

Then lunch was over and a patient came in and it was time for me to get back to working on the database. And all this eye stuff was kind of giving me a headache... The end.

I'm still mentally processing what happened today... I really did see in 3D... I'm coming to believe that doubt, mistrust, and negativity are a big hindrance to succeeding in vision therapy. Sometimes you just have to trust what your eyes are showing you. Stop discounting the positive.


  1. BRAVO! I am so happy for you! Indeed, doubting what I see is a huge problem, especially when I see stationary object move. This is a great encouragement for me!

  2. I wish I could find a vision therapist as good as yours.