Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Vision Therapy Changed My Life

Fair Warning: This post is somewhat long and heavy on the text, but it's something I really want to share, as I'll explain down below. I'm really hoping I can help someone else by sharing my story here!

As I mentioned a few months ago, one of the reasons I took such a long break from writing this blog was because of some "life stuff" that happened last year. Specifically, I began seeing an optometrist that specializes in vision therapy and then began a program of vision therapy that has continued up until now.

And it has changed my life.

This is not, I assure you, an exaggeration. If I compare not only my vision, but my overall quality of life, mood, stress and energy levels...all of it has improved so much just as a result of vision therapy. It's far too much to cover in just one blog post. In fact, I've considered starting a whole new blog dedicated just to this subject. But for now, I think I'll post an overview of my thoughts here in the hope that it may help someone out there who, like me a year or so ago, might be look for some solutions to their vision problems.

Vision Therapy Changed My Life |
A few of my vision therapy tools, which I'll talk more about in the future: my journal, a book of stereograms, lifesaver cards, tranaglyphs, eccentric circles, and red/green glasses.

The specific problems that I went through vision therapy to correct were strabismus and dipoplia. Strabismus refers to eyes that are misaligned, meaning they aren't pointing at the same point in space at the same time. In my case, this took the form of esophoria--one of my eyes (usually the right eye) would turn in while the other looked straight ahead. It's also possible to have exophoria, with one eye turning out. Because my eyes weren't pointing at the same place at the same time, I would experience dipoplia, or double vision.

Trying to describe what this is actually like is almost impossible. I've trying googling images, but none of them come even close to what I experienced. Because this problem started in childhood, my brain got very good at suppressing the vision in my weaker right eye and so I didn't see double all the time and I didn't always see the double image in exactly the same way. That second image was usually semi-transparent looking and a lot of times I could simply ignore it, especially when I was younger. As I got older though, it because more and more distracting and confusing, particularly while driving. This was what finally motivated me to really look for a solution. (I had asked for help from eye doctors in the past, with sad results, which I may write more about in the future.)

This is probably the best image I've found -- and the creator also suffers from dipoplia.

Not only did it take all my attention to drive safely, but I was very self-conscious about my turned-in eye--even though everyone I've mentioned this too tells me they never noticed it. And those were just the consequences that I was aware of. There were so many things that I didn't realize were a result of my poor visual skills until after going through vision therapy. One was my energy level. Don't get me wrong, I still need a good night's sleep, but my energy levels improved drastically once I wasn't draining all my brain energy trying to cope with constantly seeing the world in a confusing way.

Another huge thing I didn't realize: I had no (or very little) stereoscopic vision. Again, this is something that warrants several posts just on it's own, but I'll try to explain it in basic terms. Because humans have two eyes, set slightly apart from one another, our brain is able to construct a three-dimensional image of the world around us. But if the two eyes aren't working together, this becomes impossible. I cannot describe (although I'll try in future posts!) how amazing it was the first day that I saw the world in three dimensions--and how incredible it still is to see new things this way every day.

Vision Therapy Changed My Life |
Susan "Stereo Sue" Barry's book and blog are great sources if you suffer from strabismus--I'll write more about this in the future as well.

Vision therapy is often pooh-poohed by a lot of the mainstream vision health community, depriving so many people just like me from benefiting from it. I'm thankful that I had an optometrist willing to refer me to another optometrist and practice that specializes in vision therapy and especially grateful to that doctor, my therapist, and all their staff for all their patient and professional help over the past year or so. I still have a ways to go on my vision journey, but it has been truly life-changing.

I would like to include posts here describing different aspects of vision therapy, what it's like to re-wire your brain in this way, and how much I've benefited. If you have any questions or are considering vision therapy for yourself or your child, please do not hesitate to contact me either by commenting on a post or emailing me at And for those of you who aren't interested in this subject because it doesn't apply to you, I understand that completely and I promise I will continue to post about my usual subjects as well.

Have you ever heard of vision therapy? Been through it yourself? Please post any questions below and I'll be happy to answer them!

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