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!)


  1. Hi, I have strabismus as well. I heard about Dr Sue Barry from my husband and I came across your web page while looking for more information.

    I just had an eye appointment today to inquire if I might be a candidate for vision therapy to try and recover my 3d vision but while the doctor was nice he certainly did not offer me any hope.

    I initially went to him because my son who is 22 also has this condition and while I have learned to live with my limitations at 51 years of age ... he has not.

    My question to you is ... even though you had strabismus did your doctors tell you that you still had some small ability to see in 3d at any point.

    I am told I have zero binocularity so as a result vision therapy would be pointless but I need to know if this is fact or just conventional wisdom. The doctor had never heard of Sue Barry but claimed if her case was successful she DID have some vestigial ability to see in 3d which I believe I have heard her say herself.

    Thanks, even if I am a lost cause it is nice there is hope for some.

  2. Heather,

    It looks to me like you are using mostly your left eye.

    Even though your writing is usually so touching this one was especially brilliant and pulled at my heart. I feel like your explanation of how you feel leaving the cocoon and becoming a butterfly (OK, a little dramatic) is a real gift from you to your friends and readers of your blog.

    Thank you,


  3. I think it looks like you are seeing with your right eye in this photo.

    First poster -- get another opinion! Please do not accept being deemed a lost cause. I was told by an eminent opthalmologist who told me to give up annually for more than 25 years. He said that I had no more hope of seeing three dimensionally than an amputee would have hope of growing back a lost limb. After reading Sue Barry's book, I have been in vision therapy since September, and I have made enormous, thrilling, very very real gains.

  4. Thank you for your feedback. James, your note is really touching, thank you again.

    FIrst poster, I totally agree with Katharine, please, please get a second opinion. I was told by a very prominent optometrist that Vision Therapy would be a waste of my time. And while I ultimately did need surgery to correct my very severe vertical misalignment in both eyes, I found another COVD vision therapist who thought that doing exercises and working the brain post op would only benefit me. And I see that he was right. Now I am back in therapy having had surgery and trying to teach my very stubborn brain to accept images from both eyes at the same time. It is amazing how much easier it is now that my eyes are straight.

    To answer your question with regards to binocularity. I have switched my eyes back and forth since I was nine years old. This kept me with very good vision acuity-wise in both eyes. However, having them so misaligned, I have been unable to have binocular vision centrally, but prism glasses, and now surgery, I am learning to wake the eye up that i have suppressed and it is working, slowly. I don't think the doctors ever really knew what would happen once my eyes were aligned. One told me that with the way they were there was no way I could ever do it. Another said that I could get it, but would need surgery and then I may see double for awhile (which is happening now once in awhile.) but no doctor ever said, there is no way I would ever see binocularly....I don't think they know what my brain can or can not do, so there was always some question.

    Please do not let anyone tell you that you are some kind of lost cause case. I get emails all the time from people who have gained tremendous success from Vision Therapy and I encourage you to get a second and third opinion.
    On my blog I have an entry entitled "How to find a COVD vision therapist." which may be helpful for you. You just click on the link and it takes you to the site where you can put in your zip code and find a certified therapist near you.
    Good luck and please let me know how you make out.

  5. So the correct answer is the eye with the bloodshot mark is the eye that I focus or lead with (which is actually my right eye, the photo reverses my face making it look like my left eye!)

  6. Thank you Heather and everyone else for your kind words of encouragement. I am the first poster here, my username got messed up sorry.

    I went to the doctor yesterday totally expecting him to be skeptical but I confess his complete closed mindedness and absolute certainty that I was chasing rainbows threw me for a loop anyway. The fact that so many of you have succeeded after being told similar negative opinions gives me a great deal of hope.

    I am not really sure it will work for me as my eyes are still quite deviant even though I had several surgeries as a child BUT I have a LOT of hope for my son, and I will certainly follow through on BOTH our cases in any event.

    As an aside I experimented last night with a Brock's string, similar to the one I saw in a Sue Barry Youtube video. I had absolutely no luck whatsoever seeing 2 strings but did get the feeling once or twice that I was able to focus both eyes on a single point ever so fleetingly. However my son WAS able to see 2 strings about an inch from the end of his nose and THAT gives him something he can work on. It made him very very happy to think he might one day be able to see in 3d and if that's all I get from this .. I will be very happy as well :)

    Once again thanks so much, until today I never really had much hope, but hearing that Sue's success was not an isolated case has change that for me :)


  7. so I guessed the correct eye (it was the bloodshot one) - it was just a mirror image

  8. Heather, when I first read this post, I had tears in my eyes. But I had to run and couldn't respond. As a result of reading "Stereo Sue" and Susan Barry's book, I started vision therapy for my strabismus two months ago. I wonder how different I will look to myself when I can see myself in 3D.

    When I got my eyes cosmetically straightened when I was 17, it was such a relief to have people look at me without being uncomfortable wondering about which eye they should look at.

    I think the journey you are going through will be more about how you see yourself and the world rather than how people look at you.


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