Difficulties while reading, working, and learning to play the cello caused this adult patient to seek a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist found with COVD’s Locate a Doctor tool. After a diagnosis of convergence insufficiency, he was prescribed glasses with prisms and a course of vision therapy. Follow his journey below as he retrains his brain and eyes to work together.
My practice at home this week between sessions was the first time I saw marked, noticeable change in my vision. I’m still surprised about it, especially that it happened so quickly! Remember the Letter Tracking activity, where my stronger left eye kept trying to take over and make the letters on the page invisible? While I’d been fighting to see the text during my in-office session, my brain immediately got the message during the first few moments of practice at home. Instead of a green nothingness barging its way into my field of vision, the black text on red background held strong and I was able to follow along the lines to find letters so much easier. My accuracy was immediately better, too. At the office, my circles were only what you might call “near-ish” to the letters. Now, they were spot-on. Victory!
This success at home had me in a great mindset heading into this week’s session. We started out with a few activities to work on moving my eyes only as well as my awareness of moving my body. The first one was called a Marsden ball, which was hung from the ceiling on a rope. With tape over one eye at a time, I had to watch the ball swing in different directions without moving my head and while reading off the letters I saw on it. I somehow managed not to get dizzy and it was fascinating that some diagonal directions were more challenging to track than others. It was very enlightening about why driving seems so much more difficult for me than others as the moving ball was a lot like driving past other cars. Hopefully this activity will help me feel more comfortable on the road!
Next was an activity called “Angels in the Snow,” where I had to lie on the floor and try to simultaneously move different combinations of my arms and legs. I “tested out of” that one and wouldn’t need to practice it any more, which was a good boost to my self esteem, just in time for what I had to do next.
The object above is a transparent card for an activity called “Bullseyes.” It was very similar to the Push-Up Paddle activity from the first week, because I had to switch back and forth from a close-up letter on the card to a far-off one on the Hart Chart, keeping my place with the middle circle in the bullseye up top. But instead of just looking, I had to actually read every single letter, alternating near and far, while trying to keep my place, using only my weaker right eye. It was absolutely brutal.
My biggest moment of difficulty was when my vision therapist asked me to walk as far away from the Hart Chart as I could while keeping the letters clear. I expressed my frustration that it absolutely never feels like letters are clear out of my right eye, but not because they are blurry–the edges are crisp and I can tell what letters are. This is why I went my whole life undiagnosed. After a few moments of feeling defeated and totally unable to express what I was seeing (sort of a constant after-image of the text that’s offset to the bottom right, plus the taped-over view from my left eye over everything?), she suggested we try an eye patch.
The patch was definitely helpful and seemed to throw my brain for a loop. I still had the weird symptoms I had tried to describe, but they were subdued a bit, and my vision was definitely closer to what I’d describe as “clear.” From there, it was on me to put a pin in my perfectionism and practice patience. The point of my being there was to improve that “weirdness,” and it was going to take time. In the meantime, “stand at a distance where the text is clear” could mean “as clear as it’s going to get” and that was OK. I can’t thank my vision therapist enough for listening and trying to understand my indescribable vision issues and for validating my frustrations. I always leave the office with a huge smile, but this week it was even bigger than usual. Now I just have to find a place to hang my Marsden ball for at-home practice…