Sunday, December 30, 2012

New year's resolution for 2013

In 2012 I went from constant double vision to mostly single vision. However, I’m not out of the woods yet. This acquired visual skill could collapse under its own weight if things go slightly wrong. Other, but related, health problems are also showing its head after years of double vision and the (visual) stress it brings along and if not handled carefully might slow down the visual rehabilitation. So if no external events ruin my progress for the zillionth time and I can more or less continue this course I might just be able to crown this two to three year effort with some stereopsis. After all the things I’ve been reading (book review coming up!) on the topic of visual rehabilitation and the far-reaching effects it can have for so many people (not just people with obvious strabismus, but also people with more subtle visual imbalances), I’m more determined and inspired than ever. Over the years there have been many obstacles to prevent this recovery from happening… But whatever happens, I will finish this rehabilitation. THIS IS HAPPENING. So let that be the 2013 resolution: keep doing everything in my power to acquire stereo vision and become who I was supposed to be if it wasn't for a broken eye care system. Happy new year everyone!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cross-eyed 3D photography

The purpose of this image is to perceive a 3D effect by feeding each eye a different, matching image. In order to make that happen the viewer needs to cross his eyes. If all goes well and you are able to fuse the two images you will see a combination of both images, meaning you will see open space on BOTH sides of the mountain. Possibly you will also perceive a 3D effect. I don't see it yet so I'm not really sure... I can cross my eyes and make it fit, but it is pretty blurred and the combination of both pictures isn't very stable because I tend to suppress parts of what the left eye is seeing. So it isn't fixed and things tend to jump around. Those problems are exactly the reason why I think it's a great exercise and at this point it is something I can start considering without getting way ahead of myself and get totally frustrated. For me it is a pretty intense exercise but if done relaxed and well rested it is not too demanding, so I will keep at it. A fellow strabismic told me he had a stereo break through while practicing this kind of images, so who knows! To find more of them, Google 'cross-eyed 3D photography'.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Session 47: Reconciling the autonomic and motor nerve systems

Session 47: Before I blogged about Syntonic Light therapy as a way to enhance and possibly accelerate vision therapy progress and I was very excited about trying it. Seems like the road is going to be a bit bumpier than expected, but I'll find a way... So more on that later.

 Aside from that disappointment todays session was pretty good. Still slow and steady progress notwithstanding the constant battle with fatigue, a chronic sinus infection, the tendency to go back to double vision when tired and the hardest part of all: not to take out mood swings on other people because of the former. Earlier I wrote about the similarities and differences between MS and strabismus and recently I read (Suddenly successful: how behavioral optometry helps you overcome learning, heatlh and behavior problems - Book review) that vision imbalances are not a cause but rather a symptom of deficits in the function and performance between two major nerve systems in the body: the autonomic and motor nerve systems. Makes all the sense in the world to me... You are unable to do exactly what you intent to do and if you try real hard it will cost you a lot more energy than normally necessary and possibly damage your body because of the extraordinary pressures. It's hard to navigate this ship... The earlier (or whenever) this deficit is caught and corrected by optometric vision therapy, the more you will be able to live up to your potential and stay on course without slowly sinking.

 A general observation I made during the past few months is the fact that I am starting to understand why people have trouble with small print. If accommodation and vergence have to work together you can't just say 'I'm not going to point my eyes correctly and zoom in on that small front using accommodation all the way'. It isn't exactly a decision but that's the way I did/do it. Not very balanced and not very productive in the long haul... But now I'm trying to learn how to do both and it's starting to work pretty well on big letters... I can really make them into one nice letter/word and not two letters on top off each other. That's not possible for small print yet... If I have to read those I just resert to double vision and try to focuss on one of them. Funny business, I know... I think in 2013 the last two years of training will come into its own so I'm looking forward to that. Patiently...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

How to accelerate Vision Therapy with Syntonic Light

A few weeks ago Heather brought a 2001 publication of the Journal of Behavioral Optometry on Syntonic Phototherapy to my attention. After reading the article I was thoroughly convinced it was the next step to take in order to reach my final goal of 3D vision more quickly after a painstaking twenty year detour. I would urge anyone interested in or already in the process of undergoing Vision Therapy to have a look at this article. Beneath you can find a summary of what is discussed in the article but nevertheless I would recommend reading the original for more (practical) details and compelling arguments. A link to the full article is provided here

The benefits of light and especially sunlight are intuitive and have been proven on a physical as well as psychological level. Colors are light dispersed at different wavelengths. Sunlight or natural light contains every wavelength in the spectrum as occasionally seen in the event of a rainbow. Because of our modern lifestyles and possibly geographical location we are becoming victims of mall illumination. A California study showed that students in classrooms with predominantly natural lighting performed better than artificially lit students. Furthermore light therapy is used in Scandinavian countries to fight seasonal depression during dark winters.


 Syntonic phototherapy takes advantage of our favorable reaction to different wavelengths of light by exposing patients in a controlled way to different light colors on a regular basis . When syntonic phototherapy is properly used in conjunction with traditional behavioral optometric approaches, the efficiency, speed and success rates of vision therapy increase dramatically. 

Patients most likely to benefit have not just one or two but several visual benefits: deficits in ocular mobilities, accommodation, visual discrimination, binocularity, visual information processing skills and constricted visual fields. (I hit the jackpot I might say)

Success of treatment is judged by changes in symptoms, behavior (mood/attitude, coping ability, and social/verbal skills), performance (academic, athletic and expressive) and changes in optometric test results. The syntonic evaluation places special importance and consideration of papillary reactions and visual fields. (I’ve regularly been saying to my optometrist that I have trouble taking in the whole picture whenever she’s showing me something, so this is something that interests me in particular.)

Studies since 1927 report between 9-20% of unselected school children have fields of less than 15° in diameter. Some children lose all but the central 1° or 2° of vision. Constricted visual fields are related to inadequate functional visual abilities and overall learning and performance deficits. Constricted fields can be related to binocular instability, since it is difficult to maintain fusion if the fields are only 2, 3 or even 10° in diameter. 

 Field constrictions readily improve with syntonic treatment and this increase in useful vision is credited with the often seen gains in patient comfort, efficiency, self esteem and functional/binocular vision. Constricted field diameters will often double in extent after six to eight treatments and will continue to expand to full by 20 sessions. Striking changes in quality of test results, symptom reductions, performance, behavior and mood occur as a result of syntonics, especially when used in conjunction with other optometric therapy. 

Consult the original text to read more about the studies performed by Kaplan (1983), Lieberman (1986) and Ingersol (1998-1999) confirming these results and more practical details. Part of the explanation is that light reaching the visual cortex through the eyes initiates a cascade of positive biochemical reactions affecting other brain regions. In doing so, light promotes the process of brain plasticity but there is more…


Measuring light’s biological effects is a complex business. Outcomes are dependent on wavelength, intensity, duration, timing and number of repetitions. Stimulating the body with light at the right wavelength at the right intensity has all kinds of healing qualities. There are short term and long term effects.

Karu’s research (see original article) explains how light finds just the right places in the body to heal. She found that starving or oxygen deprived tissue responds to the irradiation. The response was not found in healthy tissue. Bacteria already reproducing exponentially are little changed, but the application of light triggers huge increases in both reproduction and cell mass in initially stagnant colonies. Wounded chronically inflamed and ischemic cells are characterized by their acidic, hypoxic and inhibited state. Light drives them toward oxidation, balanced pH, and vitality. 

LLLT (low level laser therapy) has been successfully applied in laboratory experiments and in clinics for relieving pain, resolving inflammation, enhancing tissue repair mechanisms, stimulating immune function, defeating infection, and improving damaged neurological tissue. 

Laser therapy has also been used for preventing dental caries and stress-related heart and cerebrovascular disease and for healing cancer, asthma, herpes simplex, rheumatoid arthritis, intractable wounds (ulcers), damaged nerves, tendons, muscles and bones, and for reducing infection, inflammation and tinnitus. 

The explanation is threefold.

 Light may (1) directly trigger photoreceptors in cells in skin or deeper in the body, (2) may stimulate photosensitive elements in the blood by passing through the skin or through the eye into the vast retinal vascular beds to deliver photic information everywhere by way of the blood stream. (3) Finally, light may stimulate clock and other photoreceptive areas in the brain via the retina through the optic nerve. 

Again, I would recommend reading the real thing. Very interesting examples are given in the text. 

For instance, (1) a rat brain stimulated by light levels the same as those which penetrate through the skull naturally releases an extra high dose of a neuroinhibitor called GABA implicated in sex drive, anxiety, aging, inflammation and epilepsy. 

(2) Light sensitive blood constituents carry photic information and energy to affect various body functions. A well-known physiological effect of visible frequencies of light on blood is relaxation of blood vessel walls mediated by increases in free Nitric Oxide. 

(3) Last but not least it is said that every individual cell undergoes daily cycles of activity and rest as the whole organism does. Daily oscillation of enzyme and hormone levels modify the timing of cell physiology, division, and growth. The various clocks oscillate in complex phase relationships. Generally these molecular clocks are synchronized with the solar day by environmental light. The quality of human health and performance depends on the synchronization of major 24-hour rhythm (core body temperature, REM sleep and plasma cortisol) with the 90-minute rest-activity or sleep wake rhythm (slow-wave sleep, skin temperature, plasma growth hormone). They can go out of phase with each other due to external cues (light-dark, hot-cold and behavioral/social) and when they do, health suffers along with mood. If poor health is a result of a rhythm disorder, fix the rhythm not the symptom. 

An interesting history of this field of research called syntonics is also provided in the text. The name is derived from the syntonic principle which aims at synchronizing clock mechanisms identified in the brain as well as peripherally in organs, tissues and cells throughout the body.

I am amazed by how behavioral optometry keeps perfecting its practice by being open to and incorporating innovative ideas from other areas of research. After finding out a cure for strabismus has been hidden from me for 20 years I shouldn’t be surprised by anything anymore, yet I am. On the one hand it seems like a crazy idea to expose someone to light and they’d see better… On the other hand, the most intuitive and elegantly simple ideas often prove to be genius. Besides, we also radiate cancer and walk around with miniature computers in our pockets connected by wireless internet enabling us to talk to someone half way around the world in a split second. Heather seems to have a positive reaction and as soon as I try it, I will report on it as well.

PS: A last note I want to leave you with is a video testimony of a mother whose son was in a to me very recognizable situation. Towards the end she talks about her experience with syntonics and how surprised she was at its effectiveness.

Related articles on this blog:
- The Syntonics Report
More on:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Session 46: Another surprise

Today I am one year and 11 months along in VT. Progress has been remarkable, but not noticeable on a day to day basis. Understanding the process and patience are certainly helpful for an adult VT patient. Time is an important factor in Vision Therapy. Double vision is disappearing, but it is still a very fragile gift that needs to be fostered by a controled environment and personal discipline. Logically speaking, if I can make as much progress next year as I did last year, 2013 bodes well and can be the lucky year during which I acquire 3D vision.

In todays session we discussed what weak points to work on further and did so. As homework I got reading flippers (prism and accommodative, to work on both vergence and accommodation), pc exercises and a drawing device I already used during my early VT days.

I thought I knew about everything I needed to know in order to finish my VT journey successfully and I just needed more time and work. I didn't expect any big surprises anymore... But I was wrong! A few weeks ago Heather sent me a paper she herself received from her optometrist in Michigan on Syntonic Phototherapy as a way to enhance and accelerate vision therapy. I'm not easily convinced and rather on the skeptic side, but the proposed neurological arguments were pretty overwhelming. I will share this paper in a seperate post with a summary of how and why it works and its beneficial effects. I'm very eager to try this kind of additional treatment and my optometrist has this light therapy device, so we are looking into it. More on this later!

Monday, November 26, 2012

An unsatisfiable urge to become who I was supposed to be

I’ve always been excited about the idea of learning and reading. The prospect that hard work and intelligence pays off and gets you a better outcome. I had trouble learning how to read so my mother stepped in and gave me some extra tutoring before bedtime on a magnetic blackboard I had in my bedroom. Later I took over and often was one of the best in my class through hard work. But already from a young age it took a lot of time and effort to complete my assignments at night so I couldn’t do much else. School was providing the basics but I wanted to know more. Since my eyes would be ‘used up’ after school and after homework I would lay aside newspaper articles and books to read later ‘when I would have time’. Maybe somewhere in summer. When I discovered the beauty of a computer, its storage capabilities and the endless possibilities of the internet I was immediately drawn to this machine but somehow there was something stopping me from learning all the ins and outs. I learned more than most people but all in all I wasn’t satisfied by how little I knew and how hard it was for me to focus on and read the screen. Still, I was inspired by how this machine connected me to the world. Mind you, we are talking windows 98. I even figured out where the problem in the information chain to my brain was located. Information was flowing up on my screen quick as lightening and I wasn’t stupid, I knew that much. So what the hell was going on? The only connection between the screen and my brain was the visual. At least I could already thank Steve Jobs for a graphic interface by then but there was something about my eyes holding me back. Looking back in time there were a lot of indications… As a teenager I would tell my mother things like ‘It’s like I’m merely a spectator, I don’t really feel as if I’m present IN the situation.’ I still don’t really know what stereovision must be like but I’m fairly sure it will address this. There were countless striking remarks and behavioral tendencies I exhibited that should have rang a bell with one of the many medical and educational workers I met during my life time…

Granted, most times I wouldn’t take a flying start when it comes to learning new things but in the end I could always do it. Whatever it was: learning a language, math, solving a computer problem that no one else at home knew how to... It was just about keeping at it. Just because things are harder on me it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, I believed. Eye doctors had always told there is nothing to be done and I trusted in the idea that they knew what they were talking about. Even if I wouldn’t have trusted them… I recently corrected the Dutch (my native language) Wikipedia page myself. The paradox of strabismus: we aren’t good at reading but no one is telling us the truth so sooner or later we will have to read up on the subject.

Notwithstanding some troubles and alarming signs along the way in high school, I went to university with a combative mindset. At the time I had this cell phone allowing me to have a welcoming message shown on the screen when switched on. I set ‘IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING’ after the Adidas ads running at the time and I surely meant it. I must have been the most asocial student in freshman year. Not because I lack the social skills, but I just didn’t have the time and energy for it. Given my slow reading pace I had to read and study every single day, and it would take me hours to get through a few pages. You can probably guess what my credo was at the time: ‘Not because it’s hard , I can’t do it.’ Every single move of every single day was designed to complete my first year at university successfully managing my visual abilities trying to obtain the best result. What I didn’t expect was that my visual situation and ability to concentrate would change dramatically by trying to be a good student. In hindsight I've just fought my vision for 4 years, there hasn't really been a winner since I was on both sides... Already during the second half of the first year I started experiencing double vision. That was five years ago and if you want to know more about how it was handled you should read my very first post. The complete visual system was coming down, taking the rest with it. The most appropriate way to describe the whole story is by using the German word “Schlimmbesserung”. The word describes an effort to make things better that actually ends up making things worse. It’s incredible what kind of trust people have in doctors and how little people care if it’s not happening to them. That German word is pretty cool though.

 It is safe to say there has always been a ‘glass ceiling’ when it comes to learning for me. The harder you try to break it, the deeper you will be cut by the sharp edges and pay the price in health problems. Not trying to break that glass ceiling will cost you in other ways. There is no easy way out of this, unless you are one of the lucky few whose parents accidently found out about Vision Therapy. My VT friend Robert brought an interesting book to my attention. “Suddenly Successful: How Behavioral Optometry Helps You Overcome Learning, Health and Behavior Problems.” After reading 'Fixing my gaze' by Susan Barry I had this eye opening revelation, along with many other people, that all this time I had been fighting the wrong battles and an explanation for why they had been so unreasonably hard. ‘Groundbreaking neuroscience!’, I thought. It certainly is. Interestingly enough, the other book I just mentioned was published in 1991…

"When you give remedial education, tutoring or counseling to youngsters with vision imbalances, it's like trying to drive your car with the brakes on. You won't get too far. Would you try to nail down floorboards without a hammer? As this federally funded study has shown, learning problems and antisocial behavior change after optometric vision therapy. Once some harmony and balance exists in the vision system, then the youngsters can begin to benefit from traditional education." ,- Suddenly Successful: How Behavioral Optometry Helps You Overcome Learning, Health and Behavior Problems

I’m not going to go into the incomprehensible cover-up of visual rehabilitation, but it is clear that its absence has left a lot of unlocked potential still to unlock within me and within millions of other people. When things got really bad and kept getting worse, I wondered if there would be anything in the world that would make it worth suffering this much for. 'Fixing my gaze' gave me a hint of what it could be. That book didn’t come one second too early... I had always felt like a tiger in a cage, the cage being my own body. The cage kept getting smaller and smaller. Now someone was telling me about a way to break free! It’s like I’ve been living in this altered version of reality my whole life and now I have this unsatisfiable urge to become who I was supposed to be. As Susan Barry states in a more recent article: ‘gaining stereovision was one of the most empowering, liberating experiences of my life’. I really believe it is and I will achieve it or I will die trying. Not because it’s hard I can’t do it, right?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Similarities and differences between Strabismus and MS

A couple of years ago, before I knew about Vision Therapy and I was very down because of studying with double vision without any solution in sight, I entered a musical instruments store. I wanted to get a book to teach myself how to play the guitar in order to possibly find ways to relieve my eyes and my obsessive brain. At the counter I had a nice chat with the sales person who himself was a musician and I started telling him about my condition. About how I was slowly losing control of my eyes resulting in double vision and how the harder I tried to do well academically the worse it got. He was very interested in how I dealt because it turned out the guy had Multiple Sclerosis. I am not an expert on this condition but it’s an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged. He had suffered various attacks and after every attack it takes a long time to recover, sometimes without full gain of function. A person with MS can suffer almost any neurological symptom, double vision is only one of the possible symptoms that can occur.

Source: Wikipedia
It's a very serious illness. Again, I’m no expert on MS but I think that currently there is no cure and it slowly progresses over the years. I don’t know exactly how long he had been suffering but he told me some days were really bad. Some days he lost the ability to play the piano which is what he loved doing most of all. It was quite an unexpected and magical encounter that day and the true meaning didn't actually occur to me until recently. I think some strabismics will not completely relate to what I am about to say but the ‘advantage’ of being a severe case is that some symptoms are much clearer. Strabismus is a neuromuscular dysfunction and, being a neurological symptom, can be part of MS. However, longstanding childhood strabismus starts out at an early age when you don’t learn how to use your eyes correctly. Problems occur immediately but get worse over time. Because the problem occurs at such a young age the experience is quite different from a sudden onset of strabismus later in life as the brain is very adaptable during that developmental stage called the 'critical period'. In the case of childhood strabismus the brain develops with a built in flaw, which is deplorable knowing that doesn't have to happen with the right external stimulation such as vision therapy. The neuromuscular connections that did develop despite misaligned eyes often degenerate over time and when put under too much pressure making your vision worse. Trying to do well academically was increasing my neuromuscular dysfunction because of the pressure put on my visual system. I could relate to him in the sense that I was slowly losing the ability to do what I love most: to read, to learn and to master new things. Also the central symptoms as stated in the above image are awfully familiar to me. The good news is that, unlike with strabismus that is caused by underlying and progressing MS, you can reverse this neuromuscular degeneration by relieving yourself of certain pressures and retrain these connections and even gain stereovision in most cases. I cannot repeat this enough:

 "Patients should be advised that many accommodative and vergence anomalies are neuromuscular problems and not refractive problems. Thus, the most effective treatment relies on not only spectacles, but active vision therapy to eliminate neuromuscular dysfunction. Patients should also be told that treatment (vision therapy) improves accommodative and vergence reflexes. Proper management usually results in improvement, due to changes in the slow vergence system. When the patient is cooperative, the prognosis for the elimination of accommodative and vergence dysfunction is excellent.
American Optometric Association 

 That’s why it should not be accepted that any child with this neuromuscular problem should slip through the net and has to deal with long lasting problems when it is perfectly avoidable. To go back to my story, I never did actually learn how to play the guitar because I was too busy ruining my eyes to obtain that degree after all… That didn’t turn out so well either. I wonder how that man would be doing now...

Related articles:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to prevent a strabismus or double vision burnout

Perception is a constant flow of action and reaction. Your own actions, even unconscious ones like moving your eyes, and other events beyond your control shape your perception and your perception shapes your actions. Both are intimately linked in a lifelong perceptual stream. Once your mind is infected with the idea that acquiring 3D vision is possible, a heightened sense of self-awareness, a lot of patience and supportive people can avoid a total double vision burn out. You can divert the visual stream to a better place, but it’s similar to steering the titanic away from an iceberg. You might hit some icebergs while you’re trying and it might do a lot of damage but if you get through it and keep persistently poking that VT bear, things might just start to change little by little. Even after starting Vision Therapy there are loads of road blocks in order to get out of this kind of burn out.

What's a burnout?
“A state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.” - Ayala Pines & Elliott Aronson
“A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.” – Herbert J Freudenberger

I was totally locked down in damage control mode, and even while trying to control the damage and reverse it, things kept getting worse for a long time. Why?

My understanding of my own condition is relatively new. A lot of ‘specialists’ told me there was nothing I could do so people around me accepted that and moved on. I tried to but things just kept getting worse. Going for a Masters degree while suffering from diplopia worsened by what was supposed to be a corrective surgery wasn’t really the most intelligent move either. But me being me, I would rather die than accept that I should be denied the opportunity to study because of something that isn’t my fault. Turns out that’s pretty much almost what I did… My abilities kept shrinking and the effort I had to put in to keep up my studies kept growing. Ironically, the combination of strabismus and a university education made me dumber in the sense that my ability to focus and read diminished throughout this period. The few visual abilities that had developed despite strabismus have gone downhill over the last few years of studying with diplopia. Hard work does pay off, but only if you do it in the right order. If I would have known the truth, I would have fixed my vision first and then moved on to more constructive study efforts. I acted on the knowledge I had at the time and did my best to carry on while sucking up the physical price without bothering too many people. Nobody suspected that this long silent struggle could be so damaging.

Example of double vision

"While individuals can cope with the symptoms of burnout, the only way to truly prevent burnout is through a combination of organizational change and education (in my case understanding strabismus and Vision Therapy) for the individual."

So when I finally graduated in the worst condition of my life, I wasn’t exactly at the same wavelength with the rest of the world. Thank God I had discovered Vision Therapy during my final year or I would not have seen a way out. Even so, the clash of me being KO and people’s expectations, whatever they are, of a newly graduated Economist actually set me back a few months. I lost some ground and had to rebuild. Again… Even after trying to explain the process of Vision Therapy to my immediate environment. ‘Yes, ok but…’. No but.

"The relationship between asthenopia (eye strain) and school performance is governed, to some extent, by discomfort. The increase in symptoms reported by young adults is probably related to increased severity of chronic symptoms that have been present most of their academic lives. "
American Optometric Association

Considering everything the graduation by itself was pretty much a miracle but sadly no one could read my mind or relive the last four years with me to know what it’s like. Or the last twenty years for that matter. Even people with good intentions were pulling me back, just because it’s impossible for them to understand. It’s a shame that good intentions can be so detrimental. It’s just a perpetual misunderstanding because you are running on a different operating system. From then on, my one and sole priority is something most people take for granted and never even heard of: gain control over my eyes and acquire healthy vision…

"Patients should be advised that many accommodative and vergence anomalies are neuromuscular problems and not refractive problems. Thus, the most effective treatment relies on not only spectacles, but active vision therapy to eliminate neuromuscular dysfunction. Patients should also be told that treatment (vision therapy) improves accommodative and vergence reflexes. Proper management usually results in improvement, due to changes in the slow vergence system. When the patient is cooperative, the prognosis for the elimination of accommodative and vergence dysfunction is excellent."
American Optometric Association

The deeper you’ve gone the harder it is to turn the current. Depending on how deep you have fallen, it will take months or even years before you start feeling better little by little. I am very fortunate to have had some very awesome extended family who allowed me to do what I have to do to get better. At that time it was very difficult to change environment, explain the whole problem again and the solution. I needed to trust my own judgment and take a stand because I am the only one who understands. I just wanted to be left alone somewhere and close my eyes but I was lucky enough they were willing to listen and even encourage me. Just sitting, talking and being ‘presentable’ was hard at that point. When I went somewhere I was afraid I would collapse and not get home... In order to change your own brain you need some supportive brains around you. I had finally found an environment allowing me to recover. I’m still pretty much in damage control mode but it is getting easier and I am bound to break even one of these days because I understand the process I have to go through. I know the plan and I’m getting closer, even though I can’t imagine what it's like to have stereovision just yet.

Related articles:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Session 45: What's next?

Since a few months I am able to keep eye alignment, so I can do almost every eye movement required. But in order to obtain healthy 3D vision you need to be able to sustain it AND switch between different eye poses in a split second. So my eyes need to move faster and more accurately. For the moment, when I am fixating on something a few inches from my face and then look at something more distant it takes like a second to readjust. The two images first wander around and then come together and fuse, but it's still way too slow. My eye muscles haven't always been so slow, not even while already suffering from strabismus. As a matter of fact in order for a strabismic to suppress the second image you need relatively fit eye muscles because it's a complicated process. In order to suppress your brain mismanages the eyes, but at least it's still doing some kind of management. If your eye muscles can't respond well to their orders from the brain, the brain just receives bothering images... My eye muscles have been severely traumatised by a well intended but misguided strabismus surgery. It set me back a lot of time up to this day. Not only had my visual brain developed incorrectly by lack of correct treatment, but surgical interference crippled fairly healthy eye muscles... However, I do want to say that a well performed strabismus surgery can be a good starting point for visual rehabilitation through Vision Therapy. That being said, crippled eye muscles respond to training however crippled they were. Everyday life is the training now along with the exercises and a lot of rest. My optometrist and I think it's possible but it's impossible to say how long it is going to take... Although I think the worst is over. Gotta keep pushing forward but not too hard :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Session 44: Doing time

I've been working with the Aperture Rule for two weeks now. The device once again proves the things I have been explaining about vergence and accommodation. This device comes with two plates you can change.

The one with the one hole is to train convergence and the one with the two holes is to learn how to diverge your eyes. Depending on where you put the plate the degree of difficulty changes and there are 12 levels. With both plates I can only reach level 4 but the reason why I can't make it to the next level differ for each one. When I go to level 5 with convergence plate I have to blur out the image to a degree that I don't really see what image is presented and don't really know whether I'm having good fusion or not. When I go to level 5 with the divergence plate the problem is not getting a clear image, the problem is I can't aim my eyes correctly for the images to overlap nicely. So there you have it... Same accommodation and vergence story again. The problem is really evident and so is the solution... It's already been a hell of a ride so why not go that extra mile. Considering everything I have the progress I expected to have so it's just about making that effort and doing that time.

Talking about doing time... I read research the other day that this type of perfectly treatable (but most often ignored) binocular eye conditions is strongly asociated with learning problems and consequently with criminality and low economic and social outcomes. The inmate population has a significantly higher percentage of this problem than the general population. My optometrist also told me about research during which they made inmates do VT and they saw significant behavioral improvements because of reduced stress and frustration. It sure feels like being locked up and reminded me of a funny discussion I had about a year ago with my friend Anja. I was seriously freaking out about having limited options because of graduating with double vision and I needed more time to fix the problem. Fortunately by then I had already figured out how to at least... She commented as a joke: 'You can rob a bank. If it works out you are rich and have time, if it doesn't work out you got time to work on your eyes in prison.' Let's just say the opportunity costs for the individual and society of not making serious work of this shit are huge. More about this later.

PS: A fellow patient peed her pants today, but being a little kid is a good excuse :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

No more emotional meltdowns for Asher

That kid is me but only ginger. Housework did take ages, I had a lot of meltdowns and actually threw a few chairs in school once hahah
Video by Wow Vision Therapy

Friday, October 26, 2012

News from Heather in Michigan

"Yesterday was just a crazy 3D day. It pops in at the strangest times. We have an island in the middle of our City and I like to go down and eat lunch there sometimes. As I was pulling onto the island I had this huge sense of depth perception. I don't even know how to explain it. It was scary and fun all at the same time. And then it just went away. :( "

  But as sh e continues with VT there will be more 3D, and longer, and easier! Some people discribed it as a sudden pop into a 3D world... Others as a gradual process going back and forth for a while with a final irreversable pop at the end. Every brain is different. I have been experiencing some sporadic changes too this week but I'm not sure what it means. It's like something is hiding beneath the surface but doesn't show its face... Or I might be losing my mind. Either way, my brain is changing :D

Friday, October 19, 2012

The stereo blind podologist

I had a little ingrown nail issue and I went to a podologist my mother recommended. She drilled the lil fucker out and then pulled it by the root. She said: 'You must have a very high pain threshold because you didn't even flinch.' 'This is nothing, I've had bigger health issues than this', I replied. She got curious so I told her about the eye operations etc. The girl is my age and I could see the reflection of the lights in both her eyes so by the looks of it she has perfect eye alignment. Turns out she has strabismus too! She's been operated as a child and suffered a lot from it... She suppresses one image so is spared double vision but relying on the one image means she has no stereovision either. Not knowing what stereovision feels like she doesn’t really realise it, but experiences other seemingly not eye-related health problems. She told me about the nausea and all the other stuff. The operation was done by the doctor who applied damage control when I was totally done for. He's definitely the best guy to perform an operation and he did a great job on her and given the circumstances also on me. Last summer she went back to him because her eyes were slowly losing track again... He proposed another operation but she declined and got stronger glasses. He's a great surgeon but doesn't mention Vision Therapy as a means of visual rehabilitation, which is a huge shame. Of course I told her about and VT. She was like 'So there's still hope?' My gross ingrown nail saved her vision it seems. Hahah

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The extreme visual skills of an Apache fighter pilot

My VT friend Diane Lourens Calvert from New Zealand shared a very cool excerpt with me from a book called “Apache” by Ed Macy about Apache fighter pilots in Afghanistan. Earlier I blogged about a different kind of ‘Vision Therapy’ during which a blind man learned how to see with his tongue. This anecdote is at least as interesting!

“A monocle sat permanently over our right iris. A dozen different instrument readings from around the cockpit were projected into it... The monocle left the pilot's left eye free to look outside the cockpit, saving him the few seconds that it took to look down at the instruments then up again; seconds that could mean the difference between our death and our enemy's. New pilots suffered terrible headaches as the left and right eye competed for dominance. They started within minutes, long before take off....

As the eyes adjusted over the following weeks and months the headaches took longer to set in. It was a year before mine disappeared altogether. It took me two years to learn how to "see" properly - how to see in Apache World. I once filmed my face during a sortie with a video camera as an experiment. My eyes whirled independently of each other throughout, like a man possessed. "That's disgusting," Emily said when I showed her the tape. "But does it mean you can read two books at once?" I tried it. I could.”

This is another example of the amazing brain plasticity that humans possess. Of course these pilots have excellent binocular vision to start with before entering this kind of training. You need a solid foundation to build on and establish this extra skill set. This man has acquired extreme visual flexibility that allows him to go from healthy stereovision to a controlled state of double vision that, most astonishingly of all, he can use for productive purposes in less than a second. Maybe something to consider after finally acquiring healthy stereovision. :D

Also see:
- Air Force Study Confirms Efficacy of Vision Training

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Session 43: A picture is worth a thousand words

Last week I was a bit sick and nothing seemed to work but this week things seem to be better. Sometimes it would just be easier to be a robot and shut down the stream of consciousness, wouldn't it? Either way it's better not to cumulate too many diseases at once :D In today’s session we did some of the usual stuff... The rotoscope, balancing on the rail with various prism glasses and one exercise we did a few times before. This exercise consists of standing upwards, looking though some kind of holder at eye height and connect the dots. As simple as that! But there's two problems with this. First, the holder is made for small people, probably children, and can't reach my eye height. Second, the whole thing is an illusion so your pencils are never actually going to touch. Then again, the whole concept of 3D vision is about a healthy kind of illusion :)

We did this a couple of times before and you can see the differences in the drawing. To me this is pretty spectacular because I don't feel myself changing on a day to day basis, even though I am. Being the geek that I am, I produced some evidence.

My pencil drawings are supposed to be symmetrical and stop at the fold in the paper that I indicated with a black line. Clearly, advanced Photoshop skills were used for this manipulation. In February 2011 I obviously transgressed that line due to bad eye positioning. Today the result was much better.

Last but not least, I got a new toy to play with at home called an Aperture Rule. It's not just for little girls but I'm pretty sure she is better at it than I am at this point :)


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vision Therapy in the eighties

This is a PSA for Vision Therapy from the eighties. This means that it's been out there for a long time! 'I was working at the word processor and experienced a headache. More than 40 million Americans use some kind of computer screen every day and a great many of them have eye strain and headaches' hahah. Anyways, aside from the retro aspects not much has changed, including the fact that VT needs have remained underserved over the years causing sorrow to many.

It's incredible how this lifesaving knowledge hasn't become mainstream over the years. I've done some more research and the validity of Vision Therapy and the effects of not undergoing it when necessary have been documented for over half a century. The consequences of not being administered VT are far-reaching and I will dedicate a later post to these findings. Thank God I learned English! Hopefully VT will be lifted from obscurity thanks to more recent findings in the field of Neuroscience concerning brain plasticity as displayed by Susan Barry amongst others. The good thing about science is that it's true, whether you believe in it or not.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Session 42: Accommodation versus Vergence?

The visual system, as far as your actual eyes are concerned, consists of two systems which have to be in tune with each other. On the one hand there is the accommodation system which makes sure the image you see is clear and sharp. On the other hand there is the vergence system that makes sure your eyes are both aiming at your target. For most people a well functioning vergence system, meaning aligned eyes, is one of the first things they learn in life and is at the core of their habit formation. This is something that cannot be fixed by simply putting on a pair of glasses. It requires a learning process to anchor this reflex into the brain so it will never be lost. However the accommodative system can be corrected for by glasses so the image you see is clear. Having to wear glasses for simple accommodation, as is the case for many people, isn't a big deal. In young children eye coordination (vergence) isn't really established yet and too much pressure on the accommodative system can unsettle healthy eye movement, leading down a dark path. This can happen with farsighted children who have to put in too much of an effort to accommodate in order to see things close up and as a result eye coordination breaks. This is what happened to me and my eyes and brain have been malfunctioning ever since. It shouldn't have been a big problem if they had given me glasses earlier. Or started me on Vision Therapy as a kid or even as a teenager. Or...

That brings me to today’s session. Currently those two systems aren't working in sync very well, they are working based on tradeoffs. If I blur out my vision and accept an unclear image, my eyes can take on certain positions. If I decide I want to see clearly to read something for instance, eye coordination gives up. It's pretty interesting if I tell it like that, but also pretty annoying to live with. The good news is that the sum of both systems is starting to yield better results (synergies, business school pays off after all!). Eye coordination is starting to hold up WHILE seeing a clear image. Be that as it may, we are still talking about baby steps... The only way to achieve these better results is to lay low. The only way to fix this problem is to lower the load, rest and slowly work on it before putting it back in rotation. As in any discipline overtraining is the worst you can do because at the end of the day you are weaker. Crawling out 40 marathons over 4 years with a broken leg without proper medical treatment doesn't make you stronger, it kills you. That's what university was to me. Boy, this is starting to sound like a depressing message but actually it's not. :D As the body and brain are pretty amazing we are rebuilding what has never been little by little and are reconciling both systems, and it’s working. Celebrate every small improvement.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ken: Making a Life with Double Vision

Youtube keeps suggesting videos to me and I looove this one. This double vision case was not caused by long standing strabismus but is the consequence of a brain aneurysm. Because of the totally different cause and the severeness of his brain injury this is not treatable with vision therapy as it is in cases of strabismus. Notwithstanding the double vision is just the same... Maybe I should even be happy I can work on my problem through vision therapy. Take a look at this amazing testimony :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One view

Before, meaning my whole life, I had to chose between my left and right eye (alternate). The last five years, in a double vision situation, I would see both images but only one eye is really aimed at what I am trying to see while the other one is just bugging me with a floating image. The alternation was not that 'clean' anymore, right and left were getting jumbled up into something horrifying. Now that I am slowly adopting single vision I noticed that when I am aiming both eyes at the same point I can't really distinguish anymore between the left and the right eye. It's just one view. The frustrating part still is that it is so easy to fall back to double vision. The slightest bit of physical effort or loss of concentration can make the eye alignment go away. My gaze isn't neurologically fixed yet... It's going to be another dark winter but at least I have a good forecast!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The basal ganglia and what they do for you

There are many educational apps out there, but the best I've found for neuroscience is '3D Brain'. It's available for Android and iPhone. I love it.

Brain structures that seemed of special interest to me are the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia comprise a group of structures that regulate initiation of movements, balance, eye movements and posture. They are strongly connected to other motor areas in the brain and link the thalamus with the motor cortex. The basal ganglia are also involved in cognitive and emotional behavior and play an important role in reward and reinforcement, addictive behaviors and habit formation.

The brain doesn't work according to linear rules. For instance, fifty percent of the brain is involved in visual processing although this doesn't mean that fifty percent of the brain is dedicated to this task exclusively. When it comes to the brain multitasking is the name of the game and everything is connected to everything. Hence it's impossible to make a simple road map of how the brain works without including several dimensions.

Source: Cousera - Introduction to Clinical Neurology
Lecturer: Jill L. Ostrem

The basal ganglia are located relatively close to the center of the brain, meaning very close to the brain stem. Even though the brain is a holistic entity, together with the thalamus these particular structures operate as a foundation or portal to many other more complex functions. So when we are talking about binocular vision problems, an imbalance exists at the core of the brain (in the great majority of cases the eyes or eye muscles are perfectly fine) and not only affects vision but also other functions administered by the basal ganglia and brain regions depending on it. Thus it should not be surprising that binocular vision dysfunctions can cause poor concentration, headaches, balance problems, learning disability, psychiatric disorders (alcoholism, depression, schizofrenia,...), motor problems and is highly correlated with juvenile delinquency. When such problems occur a comprehensive binocular vision examination should be the first step. Vision Therapy taps into the life long ability of the brain to adapt to stimulus according to the principle of brain plasticity and provides the tools for bringing some balance into a disoriented visual brain.

Additionally, in a book I have recently been reading called 'The brain that changes itself' by Norman Doidge the basal ganglia or basal nuclei are said to be of utmost importance in the process of neuroplasticity. By learning new skills or an entirely new language for instance processes that are constantly active in a young child during the critical period will be reactivated. During this critical period a child doesn't differentiate between important and not important stimuli and is constantly in learning mode. A child takes in everything without distinction, just as you do with a foreign language you don't understand. Over time as we grow up we do start to differentiate and get into a more permanent mind set, however engaging in new activities can help us change the brain life long. Novelty stimulates the basal ganglia to accommodate those changes more easily by producing certain chemicals and to some extent keep the critical period going. This does not only have implications for visually impaired people but also for autism, dementia  memory loss, ... Since the basal ganglia play an important role in keeping the critical period 'open', it allows for managing brain plasticity for the better. It can allow for visual or auditory processing problems to be resolved by gradually 'reprogramming' the brain or rejuvenate elderly people by reviving their brain with new mental activities. The role of the basal ganglia in maintaining mental and physical fitness through learning and experiencing new things is truly impressive. A pioneer in this field and its practical application is Dr. Michael Merzenich with individual training programs such as Fast ForWord for learning disabled and autistic children and Posit Science for the elderly.

Last but not least, I want to share this video emphasizing the role of the Basal Ganglia in motor coordination. It is tempting to try and simplify the brain but that would be an injustice. What seems to be true however is that the basal ganglia are directly and indirectly responsible for the overall health of the brain and body and stimulating it throughout life has many benefits on top of 'just learning a new thing'. It has the potential to, to a certain extent, prevent or even reverse neurodegeneration.

Related articles:

Session 41

Life after the zero degree angle. Since now I have a zero degree angle (aligned eyes) most of the time I can see a clear distinction between the time I am pointing my eyes correctly and the time I'm not. This is the 'advantage' of having double vision as opposed to suppressing the second image. Obviously I try to point my eyes properly as much as possible. The best way to achieve this is to sleep well, rest and not overdo anything. As is true for all strabismics things get harder by the end of the day. It's very important I try to see well without pushing it. Aim for quality, not for quantity. At first it's better to drive well than fast. After you can drive well and fast (but not too fast:)). Once your skills reach a certain level, you can apply them on the road. So whenever I'm awake, I have to take care of my eyes. This requires a lot of discipline and self control because virtually every activity involves eye sight. I can live with a limitation of freedom that serves a higher purpose (being healthy 3D vision) that is worth doing it for.

I don't have much to say about todays session... Trying to improve and extend existing and upcoming skills will take more time and work so we are just doing that. Home work: PC exercises, a wooden wheatstone stereoscope and a prism flipper to use while reading.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Check-up 5 (After one year and eight months of VT)

Today was check up time! They measured the progress in numbers. Over this one year and 8 months I've come 14 degrees of difference initially to 8 and then 4, then 3 and now finally ZERO! This means most of the times my eyes are alligned. I noticed this before by intermittant single vision showing its head. Now it's official :) Thing to do next is keep it up and automize it. Make this visual system more flexible untill ultimately 3D vision kicks in. 3D vision is the goal, it's the key to locking down this progress. Without it, if I were to stop, I will just regress to where I started. So it's not over, but definitely good news!

Maybe later I'll post a schematic overview of the evolution of my progress over this extensive period of time for completeness' sake.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Session 40

We practiced doing some exercises we've done before already, trying to take it further. Since my flatfusing abilities are quite good, we are trying to get fusion going with two slightly different images to finally end up in the 3D spectrum. No big 3D epiphanies yet.

Further we talked about passed progress and where progress is heading and in which time frame. For people with constant double vision (as opposed to suppressors) it takes longer to achieve a cure because they are already seeing the two images but in an unhealthy, disturbing way. Based on the few double vision stories I have it takes between 2 and 3 years and a lot of perseverence. Looking at the past and the possible future we are going to hit that time frame and I should put my mind on spring next year more or less. We were also baring in mind the period I fell back a bit due to 'emotional problems' caused by incomprehensive family members and what not. So realistically speaking the final verdict is spring next year if people allow me to live in a drama free environment. So let's go :)

PS: Normally I should reach a comfortable zero degree angle next thursday during my check up appointment, hopefully I'll be well rested!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Fun Theory: free anti-suppression solitaire

Most cross-eyed people suppress the image of their inferior eye or alternate between eyes. The trick is to learn how to use them both at the same time in a correct way without suppressing either one or the other. One of the ways to do this is with a the red green 3D glasses and red green computer images so you have to use both eyes at the same time to see everything displayed on the screen. Most exercises like this are rather boring, you train the ability but it's not much fun. Another blog I found proposes a red green card game making it rather fun to practice using both eyes together.

With the 3D glasses you will need both eyes, otherwise you are not seeing half of your game haha. I like this kind of creative and fun solutions to promote behavioral changes. It reminds me of the VW fun theory :)

It also coincided with a TED Talk I saw on using games to recover from brain injury.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Petition: Recognize Optometry in Belgium

I set this up a whole while back but afterwards didn't see much use in dispensing it. Appartently some people have been signing it anyways :D So here you go! Sign the petition if you want! :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Session 39

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I noticed some nice differences during the summer holidays. Especially between my last session and the one yesterday. So because of this I was optimistic about the future and my progress was seen in some exercises. The one I did first and when I was still fresh is the one I photoshoped in attachment. The idea is to present each eye with one of the squares shown on the left. If you fuse it right, which I never did completely right before, you will see the thing I've drawn on the right of the image. Since I have double vision I normally saw everything jumbled up, but not this time. Then I got two sticks to point at a number, say 1, but even though you see the two sticks and they seem to be touching each other they actually aren't because you are pointing at two different images (see pic). When we used to do this before I used to point correctly on one of them but be way off on the other. So that was pretty exciting to be sure I'm doing it right. Thank you very much 1 year and 8 months visual training hahah. So definitely improvement and beginning of single vision. Now it comes down to keeping a restfull, patient attitude and increasing general flexibility so I can switch between far and close in a jiffy. It's not over quite yet but maybe the end is in sight in half a year if I keep it up. I can do it with a little help :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast

If you have to take million steps over a large period of time to reach a goal it is important to reiterate the vision constantly in order not to be discouraged and to remind yourself it can be achieved and it is worth achieving. I do that a lot.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Doctors - Double Vision and Strabismus

The intro is totally American, but what follows makes total sense... It's surprising how in Belgium this is not even common knowledge for doctors, and in America it's prime time television. What's even more surprising is that youtube suggested this video to me. Google knows it all!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lately when I take a walk...

Lately when I take walks, relax and pay special attention to what I am seeing I realise I'm not seeing double much of the time, say maybe even up to 70% of the time. Some angles are still hard to take on for my eyes but hey, I'm coming from far. The sinus stuff is getting better with my spray thingy, allergy meds and 3 liters of water a day. This seeing a single image situation is very vulnerable and is susceptible to tiredness, stress or simply being careless with my eyes BUT it's very good :) I try to keep it going without forcing it. Now I need more flexibility switching between far and close, reflex wise. The further I stretch this the closer I am to stereo vision. My goal was to comfortably achieve zero discrepancy most of the time by september. Seems like that's gonna work out :)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Session 38

I'm still quite bummed out because of that f***ing infection... That place where the tooth was is still hurting. I'm taking the allergy medication and it's keeping my airways open. I guess the healing doesn't happen overnight... Had a CT scan, it's clean they tell me so I must be getting better soon. The bad breath still comes and goes so it's not completely over I guess...

I know it's a bit off topic but it's relevant. This extra complication is keeping back progress once more... But at least I'm not falling backwards as I was during november 2011- february 2012, when some people found it necessary to vent their frustrations by giving me a hard time. That might have set me back at least a few months if not more... Now I'm stationary and try to do my exercises without forcing it but it's hard because I'm hurting and exhausted. I did everything I could doctorwise, so it should play itself out now. I'm quite annoyed that stuff like this is keeping me from working on the real problem, especially now that every one is finally on the same page and leaves me alone to do this rehabilitation. I keep thinking that it's impossible that someone who ran 15km in an hour without any training is beat down so badly at age 22 it will never get better. That's impossible

Saturday, July 28, 2012

How a movie changed one man's vision forever (BBC)

Bruce Bridgeman lived with a flat view of the world, until a trip to the cinema unexpectedly rewired his brain to see the world in 3D.

On 16 February this year, Bridgeman went to the theatre with his wife to see Martin Scorsese’s 3D family adventure. Like everyone else, he paid a surcharge for a pair of glasses, despite thinking they would be a complete waste of money. Bridgeman, a 67-year-old neuroscientist at the University of California in Santa Cruz, grew up nearly stereoblind, that is, without true perception of depth. "When w'd go out and people would look up and start discussing some bird in the tree, I would still be looking for the bird when they were finished," he says. "For everyone else, the bird jumped out. But to me, it was just part of the background."

All that changed when the lights went down and the previews finished. Almost as soon as he began to watch the film, the characters leapt from the screen in a way he had never experienced. “It was just literally like a whole new dimension of sight. Exciting,” says Bridgeman.

Full BBC Report:

Friday, July 27, 2012

"You move much faster if you are healthy first than if you are wealthy first"

"You move much faster if you are healthy first than if you are wealthy first" Hans Rosling on his statistics about developing countries and the role of health care systems. This is true for individuals as well as groups of people...Anyways, I remembered it since a long time and it reappeared on my screen. :) For the complete speech, find him on youtube!

Short BBC version:

Full one hour lecture:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tu intuicion comienza a florecer y empiezas a ver las cosas con mayor claridad (Spanish)

"Si te limitas a sentarte a observar el mundo, veras lo inquieta que esta tu mente. Si tratas de calmarla, solo conseguiras empeorar las cosas, pero si le dejas tiempo se va apaciguando, y cuando lo hace deja espacio para escuchar cosas mas subtiles. Entonces tu intuicion comienza a florecer y empiezas a ver las cosas con mayor claridad y a vivir mas en el presente. Tu mente deja de correr tan rapido y puedes ver una tremenda dilatacion del momento presente. Puedes ver mucho mas de lo que podias ver antes. Es una disciplina; hace falta practicarla." Steve Jobs in his Biography

Session 37

Still struck by the sinus infection so I didn't feel like fridays session was very productive... I felt a bit feverish, but nonetheless I tried my best :) It seems like my brain is adjusting quite well in order to fuse the images but the joint eye movements need more work, especially long distances. Diverging remains the sore spot... Ironically I'm a farsighted esotrope, so my accommodation is set for long distances but eye movements (vergence) is set for short distances. I'm trying to make them meet in the middle and reconcile haha :) Fussion is popping up near as well as far but to sustain that. Distances further than two meters are the main point to work on so I got some homework on that :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Session 36: Bring on the chill pills

After missing my previous appointment due to a sick optometrist we are back in business :) In the meantime I discovered that an everlasting toothache turns out to be a sinus infection (since the tooth in gone now). After the extraction of the tooth, things seemed to improve somewhat for a while untill the wound healed and the pain reoccured along with a new exhaustion wave. These new developments have crippled my eye game somewhat but the good news is that now I know what is ailing me. So I'll get on it...

Anyways, so what about yesterdays training? No mindblowing improvements but no setbacks either, which is not too bad given the infection hitting hard. At a short distance I'm getting quite good as I said before but it's not an automatism yet... So now we are extending the distance up to two meters. You might think that if you can do it close up, the switch to longer distances might come quite easy... That doesn't seem to be true. The position of your eyes might be the same at some point but the lens accomodation has to be more relaxed. So I should learn to look more widely WHILE relaxing my lens... Basically, I can't point my eyes correctly if I don't relax that lens. Which is not that evident (for me haha). She said 'the hardest part for you is relaxing those muscles/lense, it's the relaxing part that's mostly missing. Your eyes are too tense.' (and the efforts I do make are being used incorrectly since you never used my eyes correctly, draining energy and being tense...) I was like 'Story of my life woman, always trying too hard' Hahah. It does make sense though, in order for any movement to be fluent you need to be able to relax that muscle or bodypart too. Some things can't be resolved by adding more power, you need to let go... All that crap about 'Perfection is not only about control, it's also about dancing to the music', well there you have it... :) It's like fighting polution by burning more combustion fluids. What we need is cleaner technology haha. A dozen other metaphores do apply but let's not bore you guys out... Bottom line, bring on those chill pills.

Last thing I learned yesterday is that it's easier to heal after suppressing the second image, like I did for most of my life. Once you have conscious double vision as I have since the faulty operation it's way harder. Because you are already using both eyes but in an incorrect fashion meaning you are even further from home. In case of suppression you ''just'' need to add the second eye. So once again it's clear that the idiots failed to detect a lifelong window of opportunity untill the day of the operation and almost closed the window for good... Be that as it may... I'm not dead yet so let's try it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"How do you explain to friends and family that you are turning into a psycho because your eyes are changing?"

As strabismus is essentially a brain problem, it touches more than vision alone. During my research I found lists of symptoms which in hindsight all make sense, one being 'emotional problems and anxiety'. This is true and during therapy the changes in your sight and brain make this symptom even more apparent.

Heather Essex Thomas put it in a very funny way:

"So I am very excited about all the changes that have been going on. But I am being to feel very emotional and a bit unsteady. Not sure what to think about the feelings. I hope it goes away soon. I don't feel like I have any control over my emotions and I don't like it at all. How do you explain to friends and family that you are a psycho because your eyes are changing. lol"

This made me laugh :D Partly because I know this situation all too well... I know it's no ones fault I'm going through all this so I try to be alone as much as possible to avoid uncomfortable and awkward situations. But even sheltering yourself in order to protect others from your miserable temper will piss people off because they think you don't care about them or you are being asocial. So on this occasion, forgive me my friends. The only thing we can do is all be patient :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Then there were two

A little while ago an American woman by the name of Heather Essex Thomas found out about this blog and we have been in touch. She is in her fourties and her last operation was 5 years ago. After the operation she experienced double vision for only a few days and went back to suppressing the second image. So contrary to my own case her suppressing system seems to be intact. She has been doing vision therapy for a few weeks now. Her progress seems swift. The changes have various effects on her like dizziness and car sickness, along with the sensation she is perceiving colours as being more vivid.

More recently she wrote me:
"I am starting to get flickers of double vision which my therapist says is a sign that my eyes are starting to work together. But I am so tired most of the time. I haveread this happens because I am seeing so much more of the world. Have you experienced the tiredness?" |understatement :)|
I was at a baseball game Saturday night. At the end of the game there was a fireworks display. That was pretty cool. I have seen fireworks many times but never like this before.
I also feel like there is often a "fight" between my eyes in regards to which eye wants to be dominate. Did this happen to you?" |They should become a team eventually|

I'm very happy someone is writing me about her experience. I experienced all of that to a devestating extend , except for the positive aspects she is describing. I made it worse by not being informed correctly, faulty operations and obsessing about getting that degree... Later I found out about this whole other world of possibilities called optometry. I read up on all the things that have been happening during the last 18 years and the things that are about to happen to me. In the picture a summary of the symptoms is shown, especially the general fatigue has been playing a prominent role lately. The good news is that all the symptoms will go away over time. The bad news is changing at such a fundamental level under the pressure of double vision requires a lot of energy so there will be more up and downs getting out of this dead lock. Anyhoe, it's gonna be okay in the end :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Being sick

When you are really sick for a very long time most people will get fed up and walk away if it starts affecting their lives too much as well. You will get fed up even more, but the problem is you don't get to walk away...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"You can control your vision and you are learning how to take control"

Vision therapy requires a big conscious effort over a considerable period of time. Anyone doing it should be a 100% commited.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Session 34

Extending fusion and accommodation exercises in terms of distance, speed and flexibility. General energy levels are picking up and I try to take care of my eye movements ALL THE TIME. I don't stress about anything else and try to take quality of eye movement over quantity. Little things are changing without me noticing... Feeling more comfortable doing some things, being less defensive although I am still very cautious about not overdoing things. The only things I need to put in this mix is time and effort...