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. 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.
The further I get into vision therapy, the more obvious it becomes for both me and my vision therapist that, like the rest of my life, the biggest hurdle for my vision is that I find it hard to just relax! This has become more and more apparent with each therapy task we add, and it’s no wonder that my functional vision issue “divergence insufficiency,” meaning “not moving my eyes apart enough,” is also known as “convergence excess,” meaning “bringing my eyes close together too much.” Whenever I’m unable to focus on something, my eyes’ habit is to crunch in tighter to try and fix it. But this is the opposite of what I need to do! So the most common word in our sessions has become “relax,” followed closely by “are you breathing?” Because usually I’m trying to hard and not doing either of those things.
Time and again, I’m amazed with my vision therapist’s patience and skills. This week was no exception when she thought of trying something that, once again, made all the difference. Using the 3D TV to practice relaxing and bringing my eyes apart is now something we do regularly, and we had tried an activity several times that included a picture in the center of the screen and one number each above, below, and to either side of it. I’d selected a sleepy-looking dinosaur to help me remember to relax my vision, but that didn’t help as much as I’d hoped. More often than not, when I selected which number I thought was jumping off the screen in three dimensions, the program responded with a “wrong answer sound.” It was getting more than a little frustrating. No matter how hard (or not hard) I tried, they all kept looking exactly the same, or the one that looked different actually wasn’t. I was at a loss.
My vision therapist came to the rescue, like always, and suggested we try something new. This activity was the same idea–find 1 image out of 4 that was 3-dimensional–but this time I was looking at a big, boring square made of random dots. Kids doing this activity might have had a harder time with no dinosaur to help them out, but for me it was like a breath of fresh air! With all the extra odds and ends removed from my visual task, I was forced to stop TRYING to see and JUST SEE! I could barely contain my joy at selecting the right answer over and over. I was finally really seeing it, plain in front of my eyes. The smaller square to the top, bottom, left, or right leaped out at me each time, up to 8 diopters apart. Our goal is 13, so I’m nearly there!
I never thought I’d be excited to look at a fuzzy square but something that seems so dull is ending up being a ticket to visual success. I can’t wait to spend more time staring at its boring blueness and continuing to see even better without trying so hard!
Could you or your child be struggling with an undiagnosed vision problem? Locate a Doctor near you to schedule a comprehensive exam and find out if vision therapy can help!