What I Gained in 18 Months of Vision Therapy and Why I Chose Surgery!

Gaining depth perception and straightening my eyes has been a 3 year process and I may never have perfect stereo vision, but I am getting to the point where I have made huge progress that I can maintain.

This article is a brief overview of everything that I did before having strabismus surgery as an adult. I have links that go to more in-depth explanations from previous posts, but if you want the reader’s digest version, you’ve found it.

This process hasn’t been easy and I definitely made a lot of mistakes along the way that have made this journey even longer than necessary, but those mistakes have taught me so much and now I can share it with all of you! CLICK HERE to learn more about talking with me over zoom.

DIY Vision Therapy- With a Little Supervision – October 2018-May 2019

This all started when I was driving a babysitter home late at night and thought the oncoming car was in my lane and I drove off the road, only to realize that my eyes had played a trick on me. It was terrifying!

It was then that I started looking for solutions because I knew that something was wrong with my vision. I went to a traditional optometrist and began patching 4-5 hours per day. I started spending one of those hours reading scriptures and I slowly noticed my weak eye becoming more strong, I even learned to control it.

I eventually happened upon vision therapy, was wowed at the initial consult and knew that vision therapy was the answer to all of my problems. (Take this free quiz to see if VT could be beneficial for you!)

My optometrist helped me understand that I had a severe exotropia of 35 diopters at near and far and that I was completely suppressing my right eye.

The price tag for VT blew me away so I didn’t start full time immediately. We decided that I would do some work on my own to help build a foundation.

Initially, I went in every six weeks. My optometrist gave me exercises to help with my primitive reflexes and basic tracking and eye skills.

I was determined to keep patching (this is why), so he had me trade out my “normal” patch for a red lens patch which helped strengthen my weak eye while easing into using both eyes together.

I made up a ton of activities for the red lens patch that were super helpful in waking up my right eye.

AmblyoPlay also played a huge roll in those early times as I was learning to use both eyes at the same time.

I spent a lot of time practicing tracking a pencil from left to right, up and down and diagonally.

I also stared at OKN strips trying to get both of my eyes to have even reflexes.

Eventually, I stopped making any progress on my own and was starting to get double vision. My optometrist told me it was time to either start official therapy or be done.

The cost was still feeling insurmountable since my insurance would not cover it (insurance info), so we compromised on every other week appointments.

Every Other Week Vision Therapy May 2019-January 2020

This was an exciting, but depressing phase of vision therapy.

I suddenly started developing the symptoms of ADHD. I couldn’t keep my mind or eyes focused, my eyes felt like they were jumping all over the place and I couldn’t tutor math anymore.

I looked at vectographs forever and saw zero depth.

I tried virtual reality and it looked normal (not 3D) and made me want to puke.

I had next to no balance.

I learned that my eyes couldn’t even smoothly track a pencil and my peripheral vision was nonexistent.

I was sick and nauseous from my home exercises a lot and it was discouraging.

But I kept working and made some important discoveries!

After just one month I discovered that going off sugar made a HUGE difference in the side effects I experienced and I felt like I could finally hold my eyes still and the ADHD symptoms started lessening.

I started to understand the physiology of what I was seeing and how that translated to my eye movements and I started progressing.

The tracking kept getting better and I started to experience successes that kept the flame of determination alive.

My Big Success Moments- Links to full story/articles

These times are measured from the start of official therapy, remember that I had 8-9 months BEFORE of patching and foundation building.

10 Weeks in – The Gem Vectograph had momentary flickers of depth in and out and my OD confirmed that my eyes were straight (this was with +12 lenses and 35 dpt prism).

The Gem Vectograph – When viewed with polarized glasses, there is an illusion of the ring/gem floating off the plastic either towards or away from the viewer. This requires both eyes to be working together. I have some similar types of exercises available here.

14 weeks in– I see the GEM come towards me with prism and +6.5 lens. It makes my world spin for several days, but eventually returns to normal.

16 Weeks in– My first time experiencing real palpable depth with VTS4 (a 3D computer program in-office). It required the perfect set up, but I saw the ring in front of the screen.

20 weeks in– My first REAL LIFE STEREO experience when I saw a flock of birds!

26 Weeks In– I start home Optics Trainer on virtual reality.

28 Weeks in– I start noticing my eye turn looking better up close AND I see the GEM without the aid of plus lenses or prism glasses for the first time!

34 Weeks In– Momentary flashes of stereo in real life and I am learning to straighten and use my eyes together on command. I don’t get great depth, but am getting some fusion.

Weekly VT January 2020- August 2020

At first, I had huge successes relatively quickly, but my success started to spread out and I wanted to give it my all so Dr. Dan convinced me to try coming in weekly for 8 weeks and see if it made a difference.

I started having improved depth perception and more stereo in real life and it was amazing, and then COVID came into our lives and I wasn’t able to be as consistent.

36 Weeks In– January 2020 I begin WEEKLY appointments and see the most beautiful stereo in a 3D movie that brings me to tears.

41 Weeks In– I see snow in stereo for the first time. I am noticing more moments of 3D with anything from water bottles to clouds.

43 Weeks In– I discover Dr. David Cook and his book “The Shape of the Sky” and start having daily epiphanies. I also get to 26 BI on VTS4 and my previous record was 12-13, the following week I got to 36, but BO (eyes crossed) is still a struggle.

About 1 year in- Summer 2020– I am plateauing and we are discussing strabismus surgery. I can force my eyes straight and see with both eyes together, but I can’t keep them straight for very long, and I experience so much strain from holding them straight. A date is set for August 26, 2020

I Decide to Have Surgery

Things slowly improved, and I was having more success with each exercise, but both my optometrist and I started to see the reality that I was going to need either 10 years of VT or a surgery to help me get all the way to stereopsis.

I could force my eyes straight and get good fusion, but wasn’t able to do this while walking, talking or under any stress.

While my near vision wasn’t too difficult with both eyes, I felt a strain after about 10 seconds anytime I tried to use both eyes to look at mid or distant ranges.

I have every detail that you could possibly want to know about the surgical experience before, during and after.

I continued doing therapy after surgery and you can read about that progress over here.

I definitely experienced a lot of growth in doing vision therapy and I believe that the results of my surgery are sticking because my brain is able to use both eyes now.

Is surgery right for you? Maybe Vision Therapy is the answer. I can help you figure that out, schedule a consult today! CLICK HERE

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