Tuesday, November 15, 2011

For Better Vision, Try a Trip Overseas!

The original David of Michelangelo; the statue...Image via WikipediaI have noticed that my vision has improved since my vacation.  And I am wondering if this should be a new therapeutic modality for vision therapists.  You know, if your patients have that "stuck" feeling kind of like mid-semester blues that you had in college, maybe they need a vacation overseas.

I had been feeling this sense of ennui -- a feeling that you have in the middle of a voyage of "Are We There Yet?"  You look at your route, your clock or your odometer, and realize that you still have a long way to go yet.  You are flogging along and everything seems to be coming slowly if it is improving at all.  Kind of like the part of my flight to Europe when I was crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  No real markers and the plane seems to be just stuck out in the middle of the ocean.

Frankly, I was feeling like I just wanted to throw in the towel,  get eye surgery and be done with the whole bloody business.

However, I know it is not so simple.  In fact, my family doctor said to be VERY CAREFUL if you go down that route.  My audiologist was even more emphatic:  "DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO AVOID EYE SURGERY!!   If you start messing around with the eyes, you can have a lot of unintended consequences."

I don't want to get into the whole debate about surgery vs vision therapy; but before I left, I was just emotionally at that point.  Also, there is a time and a place for surgery so I don't mean to discourage everyone from considering it.   But, vision therapy is a bit of a journey and like all journeys, it had its less than completely fascinating moments.  Especially when you have a long stretch between waypoints.

But, that was before vacation.

When signing up for this round of therapy, I told the good doctor that I would be taking a break soon and I was wondering if it would be better to start vision therapy after I came back.  That way there would be no discontinuities in the therapeutic process.  He said that actually a break in the middle might be a good thing and might actually hasten some improvements.

When I was in Italy, I was just too overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds, to really check in with myself.  Although there were a few moments when I was screwing up my eyes to try and get whatever three dimensional vision possible.   When I saw Michaelangelo's David, I really tried to converge and diverge my eyes and change my focal point around to get whatever dimensionality existed, but, to no avail.  I just got a minimum amount of stereopsis.  It was very noisy around the statue and I do much better at summoning up whatever sense of space I have in quiet environments.  Also, I was feeling a bit tired and overstimulated.  Tramping through museums for hours at a time and seeing tons of great art  will do that to you.

 I almost wished I had demanded a prescription for prism lenses so that I could see the statue of David in all of his glory but I guess it would not have been particularly responsible or ethical for a doctor to do so.  But, it would have been way cool to see the masterpieces of the Renaissance in their full glory.

Aside, from this, I cheerfully forgot about vision therapy and enjoyed myself on my trip.

Random dot stereogramImage via WikipediaWhen I came back to the US, I caught up on my sleep and adjusted to Eastern Standard Time and then noticed that my neurons were a bit better tuned up!  Periodically, I am noticing more depth both visually and aurally.  Quite literally, my depth perception and sense of space have improved visually.  Aurally, my hearing is really picking up more of the total song.  I am hearing "the whole song" of old favorites:  gracenotes, bass lines, mid range vocals, ornamentation, as well as the melody and lead singer and drums.

When I went back to vision therapy, I did the Random Dot Stereogram of the HTS vision program.  The Random Dot Stereogram are pairs of images of random dots which when viewed with the aid of a stereoscope, or with the eyes focused on a point behind the images, produce a sensation of depth, with objects.  Normally, I had been getting maybe only 10-15 exercises correct more than wrong:  scores like 35 correct and 25 wrong.   This time around, I got 70 correct and only 8 wrong!  Woot!

Maybe vision therapy should include vacations to Italy as a very necessary part of treatment!

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