I introduced myself last month in a prior thread telling my story and I thought I'd share the latest if anyone was interested. I originally went to an optometrist about two months ago who prescribed glasses and weekly VT which I have been attending. Last week I went to an ophthamologist to get his take on the issue. He tested my eyes with the glasses prescribed by my optometrist and without, and he said the glasses were making my right eye turn in more not less! He gave me a different glasses prescription but also said if I didn't want glasses I could just get a contact lens in my right eye to support it, as I mentioned that the reason why I wanted my eyes checked was that my fiance was noticing my right eye getting "lazy," and turning in, especially in the evenings and when I was tired. So he felt that if I got a contact in my right eye I guess it would act like a "crutch" supporting it so that it didn't get as tired by the end of the day.
He also suggested that I quit VT. When I pushed back a bit on why, he said I could keep doing it if I wanted to but there was maybe a 1% chance that I would develop stereovision. He said it was up to me if I thought it was worth it. His attitude was pretty much that I had never had stereovision so I didn't know to miss it, and people who just have one eye survive without it too, so what was the big deal about trying to get back something that I'd never had in the first place. I have to admit, I do get his point--VT is a lot of time, effort and money (I have sent the bills in but I have not yet heard back how much, if any, will be covered by insurance--I doubt it will be much) to gain a skill that, in some ways, feels like a "luxury". I guess I was not entirely surprised at his response as I was aware going in of the general "divide" between optometrists and ophthamologists on this issues, but I was kind of shocked when he said there was such a small chance that it would make any difference. Any thoughts others have on these questions would be welcome. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed to find that the glasses prescribed by my optometrist (they don't have prisms, by the way) were making my eye turn in more. Although the ophthamologist was dismissive of VT, I didn't have any reason to believe he was wrong or exaggerating about the glasses thing.
Hi Greg - I have had a similar experience to you. I've always struggled to catch a ball and squash was a complete joke. I've had 20 or so VT sessions and managed at last to get visual alignment and sort of know when I'm seeing with 2 eyes. The other day my partner was bouncing a ball of a mini trampoline with our daughter when, all of a sudden and very mysteriously, I found the ball in my hand. A very odd sensation. Even Giacomo was flummoxed. Fluke? He threw it again. "Good catch!" No-one has ever said that to me before. The sensation is thrilling because it isn't as though I put more effort in and have learnt to catch. It literally feels as though my eyes and hand bypass the brain and catch on their own. This must be a sensation that most people have had all their lives, or for as long as they can remember. To have it for the first time at age 36 is cool! Was this similar for you?
Oh yes. For years, tennis balls (and, let's face it, all other projectiles) occupied two possible states: "going to hit me" and "not going to hit me." The most remarkable aspect of gaining stereo depth is that now tennis balls occupy their own place in space, and all you have to do is hit it. There are no words to describe this transformation. Quite literally, one day I went out to see if I could "see" moving objects differently, and all of a sudden I was no longer afraid of being hit by them and, even more shockingly, I could hit them. It still sort of blows my min
Now, I try and play tennis semi-frequently as part of my VT. It's a good challenge and definitely works my eye muscles. After 20-30 minutes, my eyes get tired and things start getting flatter and then I start missing balls again. It's a bit surreal to go from 3D to 2D, but there you go.
I'm super sympathetic about the costs. For what it's worth, I think there are plenty of success cases to prove that possibility exists, but that there's no crystal ball that will tell you if you will be successful, how successful (did you know 3D depth perception is a gradient? I was surprised to learn that!), and what complications might ensue.
For what it's worth, I started beginning to perceive little bits of depth after less than three months, but I only saw it for kind of big things... tree trunks, lamp posts, corners. I spent a lot of time staring at these things trying to figure out if I was really perceiving depth or just wanting to. Over time the depth perception (and my confidence in it) kept filling in. It's pretty wild and, I think, probably something you have to experience to appreciate because it is quite hard to convey the monoscopic experience to someone who is stereoscopic and vice versa.
Thanks so much for this response--it's amazing to me to think of playing tennis and being able to see the ball coming towards me and be confident of where it is in space. Your description of seeing depth out in the world is also really inspiring. Although I read the "Stereo Sue" article for the first time a few years ago now, I guess in a way I have still just assumed that other people really do just work their way around the world like I do--figuring out where things are by perspective etc.--I just kind of assumed that's how all people understood the space that surrounds them. I am at least happy to have something to blame for my poor parking skills :) But I would be happy to be able to improve them too!
Felicity, I enjoyed reading your story and can relate to much of what you wrote in your intro. I joined Sovoto awhile back but haven't gotten around to posting anything. Like you, I did not have trouble reading. I guess this is because I got really good at suppressing one eye. Though there is no question that strabismus has affected me. My posture and coordination have always been a little off - and of course all the other things you and the others are reporting.
Yes, you can compensate (and already have). Yes, you can be "okay" with monocular vision. Yes, VT is expensive. Though I do not agree with any eye doctor who suggests that lacking stereovision does not really affect someone and that gaining it is no big deal.
I am about 6 or 7 months into VT, and I think I first started seeing 3-D around 3 months. So in three months it was possible to do something that I was told for 38 years would be impossible. Therapy for me is expected to go about a total of one year. Seeing in 3-D is great, but it's not the only benefit of VT. Improved posture, less neck pain from tilting your head to read, greater ability to multitask, and better ability to focus on moving objects, are all things that are happening for me. There is more to visual deficits than 3-D, and the improvements are hard to explain until you experience them for yourself.
I can't think of any other condition where the doctors tell you to avoid a treatment and go on as you are (unless a treatment has serious side effects). I really do not understand eye doctors not being pleased that people have an option to improve their vision. Now that I know better, I would not go to any eye doctor who believes eye teaming is not important.
That being said, I admit I do not know the success rates of adults gaining 3-D, though I know it is not impossible as once thought. I am told that I am progressing at a more rapid rate than normal. My case was always considered mild from a surgical point of view. So I do not know if I am having good results due a mild case and no surgical history.
Like Greg, I feel this is one of the best things I've done for myself. It's hard to explain, but I will try in time to get my thoughts typed. In the meantime, stay positive and don't be brought down by those who don't even offer VT and who don't understand the consequences of seeing 2-D beyond missing out on some movie effects.
Thanks Robyn, this is really important:
I can't think of any other condition where the doctors tell you to avoid a treatment and go on as you are (unless a treatment has serious side effects). I really do not understand eye doctors not being pleased that people have an option to improve their vision.
And thanks for the suggestion that VT is about more than 3-D vision. I would love to hear more about your thoughts on how you feel about your choice if you are inspired to share. Thanks.
Do read Susan Barry's book 'Fixing My Gaze - A Scientist's Journey Into Seeing In Three Dimensions.' Had it not been for Sue's wonderful effort, I couldn't have made the journey myself. If the fear of double vision halts you, my therapist, Leonard Press (Family Eyecare in Fairlawn, NJ) devised a treatment plan that eliminated double-vision in my case. Brilliant.
As an Optometrist that offers visual therapy as a treatment option. I find it hard to believe that one lens made your eyes worse. I guess it depends on the definiton of '"worse used by the two eye doctors.
Some believe a medium minus eye turn is better than a medium plus eye turn, An eye turn is an eye turn. If the different lense do not allow both eyes to work together, be aligned and give 3D the debate of what is better is without merit.
Others believe a full prescription that make the eye turn a little less, but does not give alignment and two eye depth perception make your eyes more dependant on the stronger glassess. In my experience this stronger lens treatment option will mean the eye turn is more or greater in size when the glasses are off and often leads to the need for progressively stronger and stronger lenses to keep the eyes looking a little "straighter".
So as you can see "a prescription that made your eyes worse" is based upon what is "worse" or what is "better". Rarely I have I ever seen prescription lenses make your eyes worse. Maybe not as straight looking, but it rarely makes the eyes turn more than no lenses or the previous lenses.
If neither set of lenses give eye alignement, two eye depth (3D) and grace in movement I would argue the lens is not the key issue in the first place. It's worseness or betterness is base upon two different philosophies of treatment.
Thanks for this information Bob H. I definitely think the glasses prescription initially given to me by my optometrist was not intended to fix my eye-turn/"lazy eye", or to give me better depth perception. She was very clear that those things would come from VT. I guess I was just concerned that the glasses might actually be somehow sabotaging the work of the VT, if they were showing more turn-in when I wore them than when I did not wear them--that's what the ophthamologist seemed to be saying. Anyway, I am going to ask my optometrist if it's possible that there might be such an effect. I am continuing with the VT, however.
I'm no poster child for VT as I've had a huge amount of side effects and had to move back to my parents' house when I couldn't drive at night and for financial reasons due to VT, but I don't regret it. It was supposed to take 1 year and I've been doing it 2.5 years. My current ophthalmologist doesn't think I'll develop 3D vision. You can read more about my travails with VT on my blog, www.oneeyedprincess.com. The bottom line is this: do you want to live your life wondering "what if I could see in 3D?". It's better to try, suffer (and believe me, I have), see changes in your vision and may or may not reach 3D than to have a lingering "what if" in your mind. I've had to undergo huge changes in my character and behavior as a result of the side effects of VT. I didn't accept these changes at first, but I realized I'd be better of surrendering than fighting against them. In the end, I'm a stronger person and much clearer about which friends are there for me when I need help. This distilling of my friendships would not have occurred had I not become super vulnerable as a VT patient. It's a long road. But it's worth it even if you don't reach stereo.
Thanks Susanna. I decided to look at your blog and I am going through it from beginning to end so that I can get an understanding of what your experience was like and some of the challenges you faced. I appreciate your holistic perspective that it is not just about the physical act of changing the eyes, but about how you relate to the world.
Felicity, I did not get glasses with prisms until I had been in VT for 6 months. I think my optometrist was waiting to make sure my lazy eye was going to respond. She later told me when she did my initial exam, the amblyopic eye would barely even move. After reading Sue Barry's book, I kept wondering why my doctor didn't prescribe the prism glasses. I now know she did not want me to have the expense of the glasses if the lazy eye was not going to respond. I guess what I am trying to say is that your progress may go very slowly. I understand about the cost because mine is all out of pocket and not covered by insurance. I was hesitant to start VT because I knew it would take a lot of time and work. I am glad that I started and didn't wait any longer. It is a personal choice you have to make, but don't put too much weight into someone telling you there is only a 1% chance you will gain stereo vision. I had an optometrist/vision therapist tell me about 15 years ago that I should not try vision therapy since I had never had binocular vision it would probably "bother me". I promise you being able to see someone's face at a distance more clearly, and being able to catch a frisbee is not a bother!
Thanks for this motivation Kathe! I'm glad to hear about the different comments you've gotten from different doctors and that not all of them turned out to be right. It's clear that this is a field in which there is not a clear consensus, which makes sense given the variation between each patient in terms of where our eyes are and what our challenges are, and the variation in attitudes among different eye specialists.