Gaining Perspective Through Vision Therapy
Part 2 of a series. For the first part of this story, click here.
I had looked forward to the appointment from the moment I made it. The possibility of having depth perception for the first time in my life was almost unbelievable and this appointment would tell me if it was possible.
One summer in junior high, my friends convinced me to join their softball team. The team shirt was red and had our name on it. I was so proud to wear that shirt. They put me in as catcher. All I had to do was crouch down and let the ball fall into my glove. Every single ball that season hit my glove and dropped to the ground. The umpires had amazing patience.
What would it be like to see in 3D?
The day finally came for my appointment. As I parked the car awkwardly, I wondered if the staff was peeking out the window thinking, ‘yep, there’s our next patient’.
The therapist Mindy could not have been nicer. She led me through a series of tests. My competitive nature came out and I tried my best to get 100% correct. As I struggled to draw shapes that had been shown to me, I realized this wasn’t going to be easy.
It was clear that I couldn’t do all of the simple tasks. I felt like a 4th grader who gets that sick feeling when they realize everyone else is smarter than they are. I failed another test. I tried to remain hopeful as I moved to the next room to see the doctor.
Dr. Mowbry was and is clearly passionate about vision therapy. She explained that our eyes can work fine but that doesn't mean our brain is processing the information it's receiving correctly. In addition, our eyes can work poorly but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with our brain. We just need to get the two to work together.
Eyes + Brain = Vision.
Unlike other eye exams, she seemed less concerned with how well I read a row of letters than how my eyes were tracking and what I perceived.
‘Very interesting’ she commented as she watched my eyes follow her instrument through the air.
She then pulled out a small flat rectangular metal plate and handed me some glasses. I knew what this was. On that metal plate is a picture of a fly and I’m supposed to see it in 3D. I’ve seen this fly dozens of times as I routinely have my eyes checked. He’s always flat. There’s no depth. I can’t see it.
She put the plate into my hands and I couldn't believe what I saw. The fly's wings were coming towards me. I wanted to cry. She asked if I could touch his wings and I giggled, ‘yes!’ I reached out to touch them. They weren't really there. She quickly took that plate and handed me another. There were 4 images. ‘Are any of these images standing out more than the rest?’ No. I felt disappointed. We were back to where I’d always been. Back to a flat paper doll world.
I wanted to see the fly again but was too embarrassed to ask.
They sent me away to eat lunch and told me to come back at 1:00 pm for the results. I nervously drove to a place nearby to eat. When I returned I paced the waiting room wondering if they were teetering on a decision of whether or not to take me on as a patient.
I met again with Mindy. Most of her patients are children so she has a very gentle way about her. Although my results were in her hands, I wanted to spend more time staring at her beautiful nose and doing the simple but difficult tests she pulled from her binder.
In her hands was a colored chart. My mind began to spin as she explained my results. Some of my scores were very low. I'd never received a report card like this.
They recommended 45 weeks of therapy. 'I’m in! I can do this! I’ll be your best patient ever!'
Relieved, I excitedly told Mindy that I saw the fly's wings and wondered why I had never been able to see them before. She explained that because she had taken me through the testing before seeing the doctor, parts of my brain were waking up. What? My brain is waking up?
It was ready to explode with this new and exciting information.
And Mindy had some other interesting things to say. She told me this process is slow. Once I see improvement, I'll need to continue to make sure my brain remembers what it’s learned. She said, ‘sometimes the best thing to do during your exercises is to relax’.
Had she talked to my husband? Did he tell her to say that?
As Mindy continued with my results, I blurted out, ‘do you think you can help me? Do you think I can have depth perception?’ I'd lost patience with the numbers and assessment and my heart wanted to know if it had a chance to see the world in a whole new way. She assured me they would most likely improve my vision.
On to therapy. I can hardly wait to get started.
Click here to read the next part of the story.