Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tree Trimming in Vision Therapy


Today I worked with red green glasses to help me learn not to suppress. The exercise involved picking up tiny circles and putting them on a Christmas tree. The tree was green and the circles (or ornaments) were red. I did pretty well. My eyes are aligned from the surgery, but my brain is only beginning to learn how to use them together. I absolutely love vision therapy now. Not that I didn't love it before, but it was often frustrating due to the severity of my Strabismus. It was very difficult to do many of the exercises. Now, I see tremendous progress and I have only had about three sessions since my operation. There would be no way I could do this exercise prior to my surgery. Slowly over time I will get into fusion exercises. I can't wait!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Intermittent Esotropia

Cross Eyed Mayan Sun God Kinich Ahau.

Woke up at 4:30 this morning and took a spin class at 5:45. This is what my eyes look like when I am tired. My left one crosses in a bit, but I already knew this would be the case when I met with my surgeon Dr. Brian Campolattaro. He told me that I might need two surgeries because of my Intermittent Esotropia, however, I am pretty confident I can correct this in Vision Therapy. I have always been someone who needs a lot of sleep, so I just have to make sure I get it.

My surgeon told me that Vision Therapy is more successful on patients with either Esotropia or Exotropia. I will have to ask my Vision Therapist about this, but it sounds like it makes sense. When I asked Dr. Campolattaro why is it easier for Eso's and Exo's, he said it was because it is a more natural thing to converge and diverge your eyes, but trying to correct a vertical misalignment with therapy is more difficult because it is not a natural thing to try to bring one eye down and one eye up.

For some reason when my eyes are tired I think of Karen Black in one of my favorite movies, Burnt Offerings. She always had an intriguing thing going on with her eyes, so that is the way I am going to look at my temporary crossing, like it is interesting. I am just so happy that my eyes are actually on the same plane and almost the same size, that a little crossing doesn't bother me that much.

I just recently read that in Mayan civilizations they looked at crossed eyes as something beautiful. To achieve this they would dangle a small wax bead in front of their babies eyes to make them cross in.  To think, in that civilization I would have been a baby goddess!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Eye Make-Up Rituals

Side angle face pose with eye make-up tricks!

The other day a friend asked me if I ever wore eye make-up. As visions of blue mascara danced in my head I said, "Yea, oh definitely, I like eye make-up." Even though these days I rarely wear any, our conversation got me thinking about my ritual.
For years as a teenager I would scour beauty magazines carefully studying the articles about eye make-up. For Larger More Expressive Eyes Follow These Five Easy Tips! I memorized all the things they said would make eyes appear larger and over the years methodically took each step when preparing for a party, job interview, dates or special events, like my wedding.
Since I had what appeared to be two different eye shapes and sizes due to my Strabismus, I learned all the tips to counteract each flaw. To open my droppy eye I first curled the lashes with a scissor like curler, then applied a special mascara with some kind of revolutionary "tube" technology, encasing each lash with a coat of God knows what. Then I took a lighter shadow and dotted the larger eyelid to make it look more droopy, so it would match my droopy eye better. Since my brows were also very misaligned, I plucked and combed each brow to balance them out. I also put liner on the inner lower rim of the bigger eye to make it appear more almond shaped. The tips and tricks went on and on and I clung to them over the years with the hope that it would be more difficult to notice my floor gazing eye.
Looking at my face now, I realize I can let all of this go, no more eye make-up rituals or looking in the mirror and thinking, well I look great, but my eyes do not. No more head tilts or hiding one side of my face. Don't get me wrong, I was resolved with the way I looked, but some part of me always wished my eyes were straight. Thinking back I guess it was because I had to be. What were my choices? These were my eyes and I could hate them or just carry on with them. I carried on and never let them stop me or hold me back.
I don't regret a moment of having to live the first half of my life with eyes pointing in different directions and never having depth perception...not a moment. All of this is just a bonus for me. Sure there were painful moments, but I got through them and never having had depth perception, I lived blissfully unaware that I was missing anything.
My husband Sean loved my eyes before surgery and he loves them now that they are straight. He has been my safe harbor through all of this, sitting patiently and listening every time I had a breakthrough in Vision Therapy, sneaking into the recovery room after my surgery to say hello and hold my hand, and despite the fact that I ask him every morning since my surgery if my eyes are still straight, he still studies them and then says yes as if I had never asked him before.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Learning to Be Comfortable in My New World

I know this looks a bit familiar, but it is NOT the same photo I took over a week ago. I took it this evening. Here are my eyes. I still can't believe it. Even when I look at the photo, I can't own the fact that these are my eyes. I still have some bloodshot, but it should go away in a couple of weeks. The muscles surrounding one eye are still stronger (see the brow is higher), but I am very confident I can change this in vision therapy where I am learning to awaken my right eye.

I have come to see that having straight eyes is a two-fold gift. Not only am I seeing the world as I have never seen it in all its beauty, I am also cosmetically a different looking person. So everything is different from inside and out. People are treating me differently. They seem more engaged and look me in the eyes. I notice how they hold their gaze on me longer (which actually makes me feel a bit vulnerable.) I realize now people really look at each other when speaking, like their eyes are searching into mine, which I don't remember ever experiencing. Now, casual conversations at the grocery store or on the street seem oddly intimate to me.

While my eyes are aligned, I am only beginning to learn to feel whole. When I speak to people I still feel like half a face. It is hard to explain, but I feel like I haven't fully integrated this new two-eyed system into my body yet and I am not used to taking it out into the world. I am seeing everything in 3D and also learning to feel myself as a 3D person. I guess seeing myself in 1D for so long, as a flat face in the mirror, I now feel strange speaking to people out of my whole face. It is like I want to snap to the side and peer out of one eye again, like a animal hiding behind a rock, but I fight against this impulse.

One question:
Can you look at the photo and tell me which eye I am using and which eye I am suppressing? I am curious to know if people can tell which eye is doing the seeing and which is doing the looking. (Seeing I define as seeing something and looking I define as just aware of things!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nothing is Flat Anymore

I am amazed more and more every day by what I am seeing and experiencing now that my eyes are aligned. Whether I am walking or sitting or driving, everything appears and feels like it is on an incline. For two weeks I have had the physical sensation of leaning backwards. One night I felt it so strongly I asked Sean, "honey, is the couch tilting back?" It is an effort to remain upright especially when speaking to people (I need to learn how to reposition my head) and even when I give in to the pulling and lean back I still have the feeling of falling. Visually it is like I am viewing things as if I have changed my height or something. It is sort of like seeing the world from a shorter person's perspective. Not only do I SEE 3D now, but I also seem to be FEELING it.

When I drive, the car seat feels as though it tilts back like the air has been let out of the back tires. I feel this in my body. Roads I have travelled since my childhood and would swear to my recollection were flat are suddenly appearing as hills-slight grades are everywhere. I thought I lived in a flat part of the world, but now it see it is not. I said to Sean as we were driving the other day, "Oh my gosh, nothing is flat anymore, look even that parking lot is slanting!"

I really enjoy driving. I brought my video camera to Vision Therapy the other day and made these videos along the way. *See below. For the first time in my life I can see the road moving beneath me and the signs and trees passing by, everything is expansive. The jittery movement you see in the video is how I see (which I think is why I get nauseous after being in the car) and with each turn in the car all the scenery slides to one side. Movement through space is thrilling, who knew driving could be such fun?

When Sean saw that I had taken these videos he laughed his head off. I kept asking him what was so funny, but he just kept laughing. He is amused by a lot of my flat world vs 3D world translations. These days I feel as though I am on a different planet and like any good tourist I have my video camera ready to see all the new sights.
video video
Interestingly, Sean started to feel dizzy when watching these. Welcome to my world.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I feel like I am turning into the vainest person. Yes, another photo of me! I am 43 years old and have never had straight eyes. I just can't get over the fact that these are mine so I keep taking photos because it amazes me. They almost feel like they don't belong to me.

As you can see, I still have a bit of bloodshot in my left eye (right in photo). Tomorrow night will be 14 days since I had my strabismus surgery. I am overjoyed. I promise I will stop taking eye photos some time next year :-)