Here is a collection of heart-warming stories on how vision therapy has helped patients suffering from strabismus.
Andrew, 10 Years Old: Flying High with Strabismus
Little Andrew twice underwent surgery to correct a condition called eye squint, where the eyes look in different directions: first as a 16-month-old baby and again at the age of seven.
Specialists told Andrew’s parents that nothing further could be done to improve their son’s vision. He lacked binocular (or 3D) vision, where the eyes work together to create a visual field. This meant it was unlikely that Andrew would ever be able to throw or catch a ball, or be a pilot.
After extensively researching Behavioural Optometry and in particular vision therapy, Andrew’s parents decided to see if it could help to improve Andrew’s vision. They liked the approach of vision therapy, which is used to help improve the coordination, functioning and processing of the whole visual system so that it works in the best way possible.
So at age 10, Andrew embarked on 12 weeks of intense vision therapy which included a range of eye exercises like following a tennis ball on a string, threading a pipe cleaner through a straw and getting his eyes to focus on a small ball on a string.Andrews’s results were better than he or his parents could ever have imagined. After 12 weeks of vision therapy, Andrew could see basic images (something he had never been able to see before) and was looking out of both eyes most of the time.
Now, Andrew has excellent depth perception and participates in his school’s sports teams, catching balls, running and playing. Andrew was recently chosen to play Representative Basketball for his home town.
Andrew’s Behavioural Optometrist, Anne Pezzimenti, says: “Andrew went from having no binocular vision to binocular vision that’s almost perfect. As an active little boy, it means he can participate in life in a new and exciting way.”
Stereo Sue, 45 years old: Seeing 3-D as an Adult
Susan describes the astonishing experience of gaining 3D stereovision after a lifetime of seeing in only two dimensions.
After intensive vision therapy, Susan was able to experience a new view of the world. Challenging conventional wisdom that the brain is programmed for life during a critical period in childhood, Susan offers a poignant account of our capacity for change:
“The snow was falling lazily around me in large, wet flakes.
“I could see the space between each flake, and all the flakes together produced a beautiful three-dimensional dance. In the past, the snow would have appeared to fall in a flat sheet in one plane slightly in front of me. I would have felt like I was looking in on the snowfall.
“But now, I felt myself within the snowfall, among the snowflakes. I watched the snow fall for several minutes, and as I watched, I was overcome with a deep sense of joy.
“A snowfall can be quite beautiful—especially when you see it for the first time.”
Corinne, 43 years old: Fixing Double Vision
When Corinne was about three years old, her family began to notice that her eyes were crossed, and she was prescribed bifocal lenses.
“I wore glasses and didn’t notice a problem until I had LASIK surgery when I was 30 years old. I developed another eye turn that gave me two clear images,” Corinne said.
“I had been living with double vision for several years. Amazingly, the exercises began to work and because I am an adult, I was able to give them more feedback,” Corinne said. She started getting glimpses of stereovision.
She recalled, “For the first time in my life, I saw in 3D and things looked very different. I am so grateful to no longer have double vision and to see in 3D like I should. I’m relieved to know that my vision is stable. The doctors at the Vision Clinic got excited right along with me as I went through this journey.”
Mark, 33 years old: How Vision Therapy Helps
Mark had strabismus surgery when he was young to correct an inward eye turn, but it was not successful. “The eye turn wasn’t too noticeable, so I learned to live with one good eye,” said Mark.
Upon moving across Australia, Mark saw an optometrist for an eye check-up. “She told me I would be a great candidate for vision therapy. The first step was to straighten my eye. It worked and it took about 3 months. The second step was to get it to work,” he said.
During vision therapy, Mark described how the vision in his amblyopic eye made everything look alien to him.
“It was so strange and I just couldn’t process what I saw. I had to think really hard that I was seeing a tree or a car.” But, over the course of a year, he was not only able to see clearly, but process everything he saw. “Having depth perception is incredible.”
Mark has worked hard to succeed in his career as a civil engineer.
“I have always had issues with spelling and handwriting that are somewhat embarrassing. Vision therapy has shown me the unique challenges I’ve had and continue to work through in my life. A little understanding goes a long way.”
Cory, 9 years old: Options When Surgery Is Not Successful
Cory had surgery to correct an eye turn (strabismus) when he was 3 years old, but it was not successful. Still searching for answers for her son, his mother, Janet, turned to the Internet.
She learned about vision therapy and how it could benefit her son’s vision problems. Thanks to a kind referral, Cory began seeing Mr. Tien in Malaysia.
Mr. Tien explained that Cory was viewing the world in 2D without stereovision. He had no depth perception, which made everything appear like a flat photograph.
Cory, now 9 years old, is an artistic gymnast. His vault routines are definitely easier and more accurate with 3D vision. “He knows immediately how fast and far to run and when exactly to leap onto the vault. Previously, he had to do many trial runs (including lots of misses and falls) before he had the confidence to do a full-on leap onto the vault,” said Janet.
In addition to artistic gymnastics, Cory enjoys reading, playing the piano and building things with Legos. He is a great student.
Stephanie, 6 years old: When Glasses Is Not Enough
Stephanie had a rocky start in life, overcoming several obstacles by 14 months of age. Her parents then noticed that her eyes began crossing severely at times.
“An exam revealed accommodative esotropia, which is the inward eye turn, moderate farsightedness and amblyopia,” said Stephanie’s mother, Amy. “Stephanie began wearing glasses and we treated the amblyopia by patching for one year.
She struggled with double vision at near and an occupational therapist identified delayed motor and social skills related to her visual deficits,” Amy added. Stephanie, now age six, started vision therapy when she was almost three.
“She has blossomed into a much more outgoing and confident child, with a vastly improved attention span and the ability and interest to engage with the people and world around her,” Amy explained. Stephanie can read and write at an above-average level for her age. In the rare instance that she is not wearing her bifocal lenses, she can control and correct her eye turn at will.
Stephanie loves sledding, ice skating, building snowmen and snow forts.