Monday, January 5, 2009

Where You See Red, I See Space

This morning while walking the dog with my prism glasses I had an idea.  As I looked at the trees and pathways, seeing all the spaces between things, I tried to figure out how to show someone with normal vision what I was seeing. 

The idea was to take a photograph and draw on it to highlight where I see space. It is almost impossible to describe my new vision to someone who has had stereo-vision for their whole lives, but I thought that these photos may help.  

Last night when my husband saw me on Photoshop drawing all these red lines, I am sure there was a moment when he thought, Should I call the men with the white coats?  Believe me, early on in Vision Therapy there were a few times I thought of calling them myself!

In this second photo the three skinny saplings to the right pop into 3-D. The trees are in succession and not flat or piled up on top of each other. 

There is the first tree and then, further beyond is tree two, and further beyond, tree three. I never really knew what "further beyond" meant until I saw with my prism glasses!  The red shows where I see space.

Intellectually I know that "beyond" means something further away than something else, just like I know the definitions of many other words that describe space; beyond, above, inside, around, over, underneath, etc. The difference is, I never saw these things.  

This is a pathway I walk every morning with our dog.  In red are all the areas that seem to vibrate with space.  There is a sense of being in a tunnel and everything else is beyond me in layers.  The world seems to surround me now, as opposed to things just being flat in front of me. 

The path winds along. Seeing my old way I never noticed that pathways actually lead to places.  I put arrows around the trunk of the large tree to the right because I now see how trees curve on the sides!  They are round!  Duh, I know, but again, I never saw this. 

Further beyond, are small spaces between the trees, which separate them.  It is like the space is an object; it is nothing that is made into something by the things that are in it. Tree, space, tree, space, tree, and so on.

I now love pathways! Walking along them gives me a wonderful feeling that is difficult to describe.  I know this all may sound strange...most people don't really get it.  Before it all happened to me, I didn't get it either. Never in a million years did I imagine things looking like this.

My old vision was similar to looking at a photograph or a movie screen; flat. Things have texture now, the grooves on this tree look deeper and the bumps really pop out.

The first photo, at the very top of the entry, is a shrub called a Winged Euonymus.  Other names for it are Burning Bush, or a Winged Wahoo. The first time I saw it this summer I was stunned at its aliveness. Every branch has its own space, and inside the bush is a little world unto itself, it seems to contain things, like you could crawl in and have a tea party in there.  WAHOO is right!


  1. This is great! I love the way you are able to articulate, verbally and visually, what's happening to your visual system as you work on your vision.

    What strikes me (still, after 10 years of having done VT) is how *vibrant* the red is. I don't know how to visualize for someone else, or even describe, how _flat_ colors were to me, on screen and in print, before I did my vision therapy. Now colors *pop* -- and I see the red marks in your photos almost three dimensionally.

    Thanks for the descriptions!

  2. YEA! Isn't it all just so amazing!?
    Colors are pretty much the same for me. I have always seen color, it is depth and space i never saw, but really it is the had your visual awakening with color and acuity (right?) and mine is with texture and depth! I really appreciate your comment and glad I chose RED, as i almost picked yellow!!! I started to read some of your blog entries and they are amazing. I am going to read some more today and try to put a link in one of my blogs to them.

  3. Hi Heather,

    My name is Christine and my daughter has strabismus and nystagmus which we are treating with glasses and patching. I've been told she will most likely never be able to see with binocular vision and have recently been googling my heart out to learn about vision therapy and what I can do as her Mother to help her. This is how I ran across your blog. It is very informative and I find it facinating learning how a person see's the world with monocular vision. It is so great that therapy is helping you gain binocular vision. I hope you don't mind me visiting and following your blog to gain ideas for my daughter.
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with "blogland"

  4. Hi Christine,
    Thank you so much for your comment. Not sure if you received my comment on your blog, but just in case you didn't, I will leave one here.
    Your daughter is absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed looking at her sweet face on your blog. She is a cutie! What an ordeal you must have gone through... I can't even imagine.
    I want you to know that I never knew what I was missing... For the most part, I still see things pretty flat, when I don't have my prism glasses on and now it is like I am between worlds. I see the depth, but then have to go back to flatville when I take the glasses off. My Strabismus is very severe and surgery is likely to be recommended after all of this VT. So, it is important for you to know that I never knew that i saw the world differently, so I really was never impaired in any way. As you probably know from all the research you have done, the brain uses many different cues to asses depth and binocularity is just one of them. If you ever have any questions, feel free to email me and all the best to you! Thanks for following my blog. Eventually, I will get my story on the blog of how all of this came about for me. I need to catch up with everything and some days it seems I can't write fast enough!


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