Friday, March 4, 2011

I am not sure I want to leave the place I have always been...

I got a call from someone at my vision therapist's office the other day.  They said that it was time for my "progress evaluation."   I am looking forward to going back.  Since my surgery, I think my eyes have stayed pretty straight, but for the occasional crossing.  But I am afraid...  I know after all the blog entries I have made expounding on the wonders of seeing in 3D, I sound a bit like a hypocrite, but this is the truth.  I am actually afraid of awakening the binocular center of my brain for fear that I may not be able to shut it off and if I can't shut it off by suppressing, then I run the risk of seeing double.  I have heard that you can be locked in a permanent state of diplopia or double vision. I have just started a new job that requires my full attention and I fear that embarking back into the world of vision therapy to awaken my eyes would open a can of worms.  I realize I need to talk to my COVD Vision Therapist, Dr. Carl Gruning, who would know exactly what I should do.  I know how weak my binocular vision is, the second image that I can call into existence if I focus is horizontally higher than the other image (indicating that is where my eye is pointing) and the second image is faint and hazy.  I have heard that people who get a prosthetic body part, after years of managing without one, sometimes prefer to go without them, they have adapted. My brother worked for years as a social worker for the deaf and he used to tell me that ocular implants are often frowned upon in the deaf community because the person doesn't see the need, they have adapted.  I am not deaf, and I don't need a prosetic limb, but I definitely feel having lived in a flat world all these years, some trepidation about leaving my monocular world behind completely.  It is all I have known, I manage perfectly fine. I have had the chance to visit the spacious world as most people see it and it is great!  But I can come home to what I know and not feel too bad that I don't get to live there permanently.


  1. Heather, I am new to the blog scene, but I read your blog several months ago and wondered if you were still blogging since there were no recent posts. I am so glad you are still updating your progress. I have strabismus as well. My blood pressure is a little on the low side (114/72) and I also struggle to drink enough water. (I don't know if you are still collecting data on that issue or not.) My vision has always been this way and I also have two brothers (out of five) and a nephew with this issue. One of my brothers had three eye surgeries as a child to "correct" his crossed eyes. Needless to say, the strabismus remained. I have read many books on vision therapy and the general consensus seems to be that there is no hereditary factor involved. What is your take on this? Also, I have been doing vision therapy on myself (i.e. no vision therapist) through books and courses and having my optometrist undercorrect my eyes. I am discouraged, but know I can do much more than I have been doing. I recently read "Fixing my Gaze" and feel that I too can achieve stereovision.I would love to communicate with others who are on this path!

  2. Hi Heather,
    Thanks so much for replying my email!! I am so happy for you, for your straight alignment. As for me, I don't know when I will be able to go for another surgery since my second surgery in 2008 was such a failure. I am still looking for an experience doctor here in my country (to be honest I don't have much confidence that I'll find a really good one here) and it doesn't help that I am financially so tight that I can't seek options further away. I am just wondering if you could tell me which hospital you go to and the doc's name? (well yeah, the US may not be an option for me (at least not in the near future), but it gives me hope at least to know, and maybe I would be able to ask for advice or ask for recommendation if the doc knows any good/experienced doc for complicated adult strabismus here in Asia) Thanks if you would share ;-)

  3. Hi Heather,
    I thought for a moment and I think it's good for me to reply to your email by commenting here in your blog (I'd really like to share with the others having the same problem). And oh yes, before I start my long-winded story, I'm a Chinese from Malaysia.
    So here I go...I've had 2 surgeries in the past, once when I was 3 and another when I was 26 (I am now 29). My eyes were turned inward when I was born, and after the surgery I looked ok until I was 9 or 10 when one of my eyes started to turn outward. As I reached 13, it starts to bother me a lot and I never like meeting new friends, and I never want to look at anyone in their eyes (especially the opposite gender). I guess for many of us with strabismus, it is most embarrassing that when we talk and make eye contact with someone, and the person looks at his/her side to see if we are looking at someone on his/her side (but obviously no one's there). My exotropia got worse and worse when I was like 23/24/25 (the golden age!!) and it has never gotten any better since then. Doesn't help that I am always sitting in front of the computer for work and even during non working hours like now. When my eyes are tired, the eye that turns outward becomes so that I feel that it is literally popping out from my face. I've always regretted and wonder if things would be different if my parents had followed-up with vision therapy after my first surgery at 3 (of coz I know nothing at that time, and sadly my parents didnt know much either, and even the doctor then probably didn't say anything about therapy, it was perhaps considered 'clean and done' after the surgery). And the second surgery 3 years ago left me so disappointed that I wonder if I'd ever, ever get straight alignment in my life. The doctor was simply terrible and almost unethical (I thought)when she decided to operate on just one eye (instead of both eyes) and she told me after I was halfway under anesthesia (I was apparently her last patient for the day and as I thought back I am guessing that she's tired and wanted to cut short the surgery hours - but I'd rather she tell me to come back another day than to operate on me. Needless to say within about 4 days after surgery, my exotropia came back, and I'm now worse off. The orthorptist told me after surgery (when I went back for evaluation) that there is no point operating on just one eye because she said I'll need both eyes to be operated on for them to be corrected. I stopped seeing the orthoptist after 2008 because it is not cheap, and most importantly for the fact that she doesn't sound so optimistic about me being able to achieve 100% correction. She said that my angle of misalignment is too large (like >70/80 degree) and that I can't seem to fuse two images. I just repeatedly say that I want the straight alignment whatever it is (I guess she felt my frustration but she could not give me any confidence). She recommended me to another doctor (who is one that she knows to perform adjustable suture technique here in Malaysia. This technique is not very popular here, unlike in the US (I am guessing if I am right?). And after I went to see this doctor, even she has no 100% confidence that she could give me the straight alignment (I started to think if I was asking for too much and if my eyes will ever look normal. My mum never understand my feeling over all these. She simply discourage me from going for surgery again and wonder what's wrong with me. So I get really frustrated at times simply talking to her about this.

  4. Hi Heather,

    I actually wrote about it in my most recent post, "Why relaxation changes habits" (

    Basically, if you really need good vision and good attention for your job, then this will probably prevent any changes, as long as you are strongly convinced that you must keep whatever clarity of vision you currently have. Similarly, if you are afraid you could permanently lock yourself in the state of double vision, this will probably prevent any changes. I don't know if your vision can get much worse or not because of vision therapy.

    My vision certainly got worse in some respects after gaining binocular vision. For example, because one of my eyes is better than the other, I see blur at the distance at which I used to see clearly by using only one eye. Also, I used to see computer screen clearly, but now it is not as clear, and it also causes many unpleasant sensations, since letters on a screen are difficult to fuse, and it is difficult to see the screen as flat. However, I have welcomed those changes and virtually created them myself, since it was clear that I had to let go of some of the benefits of using the eyes separately. In my case there were even more benefits since I had considerable ability of using both eyes at the same time (I have exotropia) instead of switching, and indeed Frederick Brock wrote that such adaptations could be quite strong and people won't easily exchange them for binocular vision.

    Also, double vision is very different from binocular vision. The fusion is a three-dimensional perception of an object, and as far as I understand and experienced, two images do not start to fuse no matter how long you look at them.

  5. Hi Sergey,
    Thank you for your comment. I really think a lot of what you are saying is true for me.
    Can you tell me what you meant in your last paragraph? I beleive that whatever two things I am looking at (two door knobs, two spots on a wall, two Judge Judy heads on TV in a dark room) will merge and become one and that is what fusion is. So, I guess I am incorrectly beleiving that one day, those two things will become one. What is fusion, if not the objects seen out of both eyes becoming one in the brain? You seem to have a better understanding of how to get to the world of 3D and I think my road map is leaving me up against a brick wall. I would like to get beyond this wall. I do know that when things 'pop' into 3D for me, I am not trying to merge things, but I don't know how it happens. I want to study more of your blog. I think you are also right in saying that I am limiting myself with the way i am thinking. I agree...but how to change it? It all becomes a metaphor for so many other things! Sometimes when I am focused on something in front of me, I can peripherally space out and the room beyond becomes full of depth, but once I look at it, it turns to flatland again. Oh, this elusive dimensional world I so covet! Thank you again for your comment, I think anyone reading your blog and the way you are thinking about things will benefit, as i know I have!

  6. Just another girl with strabismusDecember 2, 2011 at 5:15 AM

    Hi Heather,

    thanks for your great, great blog. I found it just a few days ago and I really hope you will continue posting! I've had strabismus (esotropia) since I was 2,5 years old caused by my extreme farsightedness. I had one surgery as a child, which made my eyes look straight, but they still don't work together and I have a permanent double vision. I understand your fears related to seeing double. However, I would not trade this for suppressing, because I guess that would severely limit my peripheral vision. I'm a design student, so my work is really accurate and about little details. I don't think that double vision has significantly made my work any harder.

    Earlier many of my teachers criticized my drawings for being too "flat" and told me to make them more three-dimensional, "like the reality". I never really understood what they meant, but I added some more shadows and highlights to my drawings to please them. I never thought that my view of the world would be any different than other people's, until I was 15 or 16.

    In my country there are no optometrists specialized in vision therapy, but I hope that will change some day in future. I don't think my situation is hopeless, because I'm able to merge the two images if I try hard. Also, even though I have been told that I don't have stereo vision, I'm able to see the 3D in 3D movies. I wonder if that is how people with normal stereopsis see the world. If so, it's pretty amazing world out there! Hope to get there some day...


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