My name is Paul. I'm 44 years old and live in Queensland, Australia. Have strabismus and amblyopia in the right eye and astigmatism in both eyes. I've had this condition since early infancy. I would like to improve my vision in my eyes, particularly my right eye and attain stereo vision.
I had surgery at about the age of three and up until the age of five or six, I did a basic eye exercise (move pencil close in and then out from the nose) and wore glasses but not religiously. I didn't wear glasses from the age of 6 to about 30.
I have just finished reading Sue Barry's book, 'Fixing My Gaze'. I only came to know 3 years ago that I didn't have stereovision! So now, I would like to see (pardon the pun) if that's possible.
I'm learning to play the piano and even after quite a bit of practice, I often strike the wrong key. I'm wondering if this has to do with my lack of depth perception. I'm also a keen photographer and would like to appreciate my art more by acquiring stereovision.
I frequently feel fatigued and have done so since at least my early 20s.
I went to my local optometrist yesterday. He said I have 12 degrees esotropia and 3 degrees hypertropia in the right eye. My left eye is dominant. I also have astigmatism in both eyes but the right eye is three times as bad as the left. The acuity in my left eye is about 6/9 to 6/12 (can't remember exactly what he said) and right eye (strabismic eye) has less acuity than the left. I don't experience double vision.
He said that he's not a specialist in vision therapy in my particular area of need but he doubted I could achieve stereovision. Because he's not a specialist in this area (and he doesn't know of anyone locally who is), I'm seeking opinions further afield.
To have good fusion, I assume I need both good acuity AND alignment of both eyes, which I don't have at the moment.
The acuity problem in my right eye is affected by the amblyopia and astigmatism while the left eye's acuity is probably just due to the astigmatism (which is not as bad as the right eye).
I'm thinking that I need to solve the acuity (astigmatism) problem first then get the eyes straightened through vision therapy?
Should I look into laser surgery or glasses for the astigmatism (which will improve the acuity)? I don't have the money right now for laser surgery but if it's a better option, I'll have to see what I can do.
In the meantime, I could use a translucent patch a couple of hours a day to encourage my right eye to make a greater contribution.
Your thoughts are appreciated . . .
Hello, and welcome to the forum!
I'm not an optometrist or anything like it, but I'm currently learning to fuse, and I certainly alligned my eyes much more than even my optometrist hoped. So, I think it's always worth trying.
By the way, do you alternate eyes? By that, I mean, do you switch from one eye to the other in every day situations? If so, do you do it consciously or unconsciously?
Thanks for your reply. As far as alternating eyes, no. My left eye is dominant and at a guess would be doing close to 100% of the work. I've been force closing my left eye a little lately and I can see out of the right eye and do things (reading and even driving though, because I've just been doing it lately, parking is a little sloppy :) I have to concentrate more when I do this because I'm not used to doing it and the sight in my right eye isn't as good as my left eye.
I have glasses for close-up stuff - reading, working at the computer - but not for general things like watching tv and driving etc. The optometrist has recommended that I get a pair of glasses for general-type activities. I'm thinking that might be a good idea - if my right eye has better acuity then I have a better chance of fusion occuring.
BTW Pablo, I have been looking at a few products over the internet that are recommended for vision therapy training that you can do at home (e.g. Brock String, red/green glasses/vinyl sheets, red/green playing cards, red/green fusion cubes etc). Do you have any of these? If so, which ones? Have you found them helpful?
From your description, I understand that you usually suppress what your "lazy" eyes sees, and use the left one instead. You switch to the other eye when you cover your left eye. Then, you don't alternate in a conscious way, which, according to my experience, might make easier for you to fuse what both eyes see. A conscious alternator, like me, can feel constantly uncertain if s/he's doing it right or if there is a better way to do it.
If there is a strong difference in acuity between both eyes, I suppose that your first step is to try and make what both eyes see as alike as posible. Glasses sound like a good choice.
I do have and use most of the vision therapy tools you mention. The most interesting one, by far, is the Brock string. Sue Barry perfectly depicts the way it works: it allows you to know when both eyes are looking at the same spot and when you're not suppresing one eye, and to exercise your muscles and your brain in case you're not able to get it right at first. If you work with it five or ten minutes everyday, in a matter of weeks you should notice a positive outcome and sooner or later your eyes will converge and your strabismus will improve, aesthetically, at the very least.
By the way, I do not buy Brock strings on the Internet, because they're very easy to manufacture at home. You only need a long piece of string and coloured beads (I buy them in a local notions store).
Vectograms (sheets for stereo viewing with polarized glasses) are very expensive, I wouldn't buy them at first. However, anaglyphs achieve the same effect than polarized items by colour separation (red/green), and are much cheaper. They make fusion more difficult, because of the colour difference between each eye, but in spite of this, they can be a good tool to practice fusion: they allow you to develop it in difficult conditions.
When you start working with these kind of items, you might notice that what they try to do is to develop visual illusions that allow you to control your convergence and fusion but, which, in fact, can be found in everyday life, without the need of tools. Working with VT tools always helped me, but I started to improve when I used things I saw in the bus or when I was resting at work to achieve the same effects. I had learn to recognise certain effects, thus, I could make visual exercises almost everywhere, and the amount of time I spend doing them was at least doubled.
I hope this info helps.
Yes, that's right - my brain suppresses the info from the right eye. If I have to pick between one and the other, I'll take suppressing over alternating. That must be difficult managing the alternating.
Regarding fusion, your eyes have to be straight if fusion is to be achieved, right? What has your personal experience been? Have you achieved fusion (and straight eyes) through vision therapy and/or eye glasses with prescribed prisms? I'm wondering if I can achieve fusion without the aid of prisms in eye glasses.
I made a Brock String this afternoon and just finished my first 'work out'. I did manage to see four strings but only after a bit of time. At first, I could only see two strings on the side of the bead furthest away from my eye. I only had one bead on the string and it was 65mm from my nose.
Interestingly, straight after I finished my Brock String exercises, I sat back at the computer and noticed (it happened only briefly) my right eye was trying to contribute more. It was only a matter of seconds before the dominant left eye took total control, however.
Thanks again for your input - I've read a few others posts on Sovoto from various other people, including yourself. Seems like the vision therapy is having positive results for you.
Alternators supress the image from one eye just like you do, but we do it in a conscious way: I can select which eye I use each time I look at something. Which makes things more difficult, at least for me, because binocularity is by nature an unconscious process.
Eyes have to be alligned to a certain degree so that fusion can happen. The brain connects what both eyes see and interprets it as part of a whole. The more misallignment there is between the eyes, the harder it is for the brain to make the jump and connect their images.
The Brock string allowed me to learn to make my eyes straight, not only when looking to the front, but also when looking in a lot of different angles and directions. That's important: your eyes need to be straight when pointing up, down, left, right etc, because you want to be able to move them a little without loosing binocularity. In my case this was (still is) especially difficult because my eye muscles were operated twice and the movements they tended to make were completely different between eyes: one eye would turn a lot to one side while the other would do it just a little bit when I tried to move them coordinatedly. Therefore, I needed to add another level of practice to the Brock string: movement. Apart from looking at the ball and getting the "X" at different angles, I started to try and get the X right with the string in movement. The ball had to remain one in spite of the movement. I have got much better at this by now.
I never used prisms, and my optometrist told me that in my case, they wouldn't be needed (since I was able to allign my eyes enough with exercises).
Do I have full stereo vision? No. Do I remain monocular? No. How do I see things, then? It is difficult to explain. I would say that in peripheral view I usually fuse what both eyes see but in the central area of sight, small details tend to get duplicated and make me get back to alternating. Part of the problem is that there are many ways and sensations I have when combining my eyes, and I don't know which one is the correct one. I think I've got much better at fusing small details and accepting absurdities of the binocular world which my brain disapproved and refused to accept as normal (like seeing two Brock strings instead of one). I hope to continue improving in the same way, although I would say that it is being a slower proccess for me than for most people. It's either that or that I don't know what to look for.
By the way, I see some depth. Not a lot, but a little bit, especially noticeable when an object passes very near my eyes and at IMAX theaters. My biggest problem with depth is that, when I try to practice with it (exercises, films) my brain tends to give more credibility to monocular cues than to binocular one. I get the effect sometimes, but, although I understand what it means, it doesn't feel so "real" to me.
". . . my brain tends to give more credibility to monocular cues than to binocular one."
Well, we've been getting by for so long using monocular cues and, as the old saying goes, old habits die hard! I guess I'm going to experience similar problems.
Well, thanks for the advice, Pablo. I hope you get past the obstacles and get a better sense of 3D.