This post is the first in a series following the vision therapy treatment of a 20-something who has struggled with undiagnosed convergence insufficiency for his entire life. A recent change to a computer-based job and beginning to learn to play the cello caused him to seek a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist found with COVD’s Locate a Doctor tool. He hopes to alleviate the headaches, fatigue, and “wobbly, jumbled letters and music notes” that are preventing him from effectiveness at work and enjoyment of hobbies at home.
I have been wearing my new glasses with prisms for about a week and I can’t believe how 3-D the world has been all this time without my being able to see it! I wonder if seeing movies in 3-D won’t give me headaches anymore? I had to slowly work up to wearing the glasses for long periods because seeing in a whole new dimension made me a little seasick at first. But now I’m used to them and reading already feels a little better.
Today was my first session of vision therapy and I can’t BELIEVE how tired I am! After more than 20 years of what I thought was “perfect” vision, I am amazed that just looking at things could make me need to immediately go to bed. The session flew by and was a lot of fun, as well as really enlightening as to how much help my vision really does need. After being told I have “20/20 vision” for my whole life, it was surprising how hard I had to struggle to do something as simple as look from close to far away and back.
My right eye is much worse at focusing than my left, so we spent time singling each eye out by putting tape over one side of my glasses. It was much harder to see when my left eye was covered, and I was told that it looked like my body was trying to “escape” the difficult visual tasks using only the right eye—I was turning my head upward, wobbling around, and tensing up my whole body. They even had to put a toy on my head to keep me still. The whole time I kept asking myself, how did I never know I was struggling so much?
During my session, using one eye at a time, I was asked to read something called a Hart Chart, which has letters aligned in a grid. I read forwards, backwards, and in columns, which is a lot harder than it sounds! My right eye kept making the columns look like they were fusing together and it was a real challenge to keep my place. The next task was a Push-up Paddle, where I was asked to repeatedly focus on the trees out the window, then tiny letters on a tongue depressor, then the trees again. Just a few moments was grueling! Finally, I had to use just my peripheral vision to guide a straw into a paper towel tube. Over and over, when I thought I was dead-on, the straw would fly right past the tube’s opening. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself for working so hard to do something that seems so simple.
The optometrist and vision therapist sent me home with a questionnaire, practice tracking sheet, the tools I had just learned to use during my session, and the instruction to practice at home for 20-30 minutes, 4 more days that week. As I drove off (very carefully!) I noticed that my vision felt more “central”, like my weaker right eye was doing more to contribute to my vision than usual. It was exhilarating to already see a difference and I can’t wait to see how far vision therapy takes me!