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!