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.
It is truly incredible to consider how far I’ve come in my vision skill development in these 24 weeks of vision therapy! I remember back to my very first session, during which my optometrist and vision therapist asked me to simply read letters off a chart and I could barely keep my place or see the letters in a way that made sense. They even had to put a toy on my head to make me stop moving it to keep my place, which was a habit I didn’t even realize I’d developed!
Now, months later, we have progressed to activities that not only bring together my visual skills, but also require me to use them while moving. Some vision therapy activities challenge me in ways that don’t always have obvious applications to my real life (I don’t plan on spending my workday wearing red/green glasses), but these new “integration activities” make sense right away: they’re just like driving a car. This week, I was on a balance beam, looking at the same Hart Chart of letters at the other end of the room. But instead of standing still, my vision therapist asked me to walk forward and back, reading a letter with each step. And instead of holding a toy on my head to keep me still, she was standing off to one side, throwing bean bags at me that I was supposed to swat out of the air!
To continue the driving analogy, going back and forth on the balance beam was the road, the Hart Chart was street signs, and the flying bean bags were other cars. It was easy to understand that practicing this activity will help me feel less terrified every time I drive. And like everything else I’ve done in VT sessions, this ended up being even more fun than I expected!
It was surprisingly easy to keep my place while reading and to bat away the bean bags before they got too close, but I struggled for a few tries with keeping myself on the beam, even though I hadn’t before. My vision therapist explained that, with integration activities, there’s always one thing that goes by the wayside when our systems get overloaded, and for me it was the balance. When I’m driving and trying to similarly integrate my senses and motor skills, the thing that usually falls by the wayside is keeping pace with the other cars–I’m that one car on the highway that everyone else is passing. For right now, I just can’t look at street signs, not crash my car, AND go 60 miles per hour at the same time. But I bet it will get easier as I keep practicing!
It took a few times to bring it all together without falling off, but eventually I got the hang of it. I was so proud of myself for integrating all these sensory and motor functions and couldn’t wait to get better at it, and better at driving! But I was also glad to not have to integrate anything else on top of all I was doing already: the bean bags had letters on them too, and fortunately I didn’t have to try to read them between reading letters on the Hart Chart. That would probably be like trying to read every car’s license plate as it went past me and I’m not quite there yet. Though maybe I shouldn’t be trying to do that anyway and just keep my eyes on the road!