Vision Therapy or VT might be the answer. The story of Stereo Sue!

When I heard of vision therapy 30 years ago during my residence in Ophthalmology I thought this was something only for children with learning disorders. VT was not accepted by traditional medical circles and only a handful of Optometrists were performing this therapy.

I recently returned from the College of Optometrist’s in Vision Development ( COVD) annual meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida. This is an organization of over 2000 eye doctors who specialize in vision therapy. At this meeting my goal was to investigate methods to improve the vision of patient’s suffering from macular degeneration. I discovered these eye doctors use many techniques to improve the functioning vision of patients with macular degeneration. Most of the techniques help an individual relearn key ocular motor pathways that have been affected by prolong loss of not using the central vision. An analogy is muscle wasting that occurs in a stroke patient with paralysis. Part of the rehabilitation is physical therapy to restore muscle function and memory. Likewise with visual loss do to macular degeneration visual therapy is necessary to help functioning vision.

Extrafoveal fixation to the rescue.
The central part of the macula is called the fovea. This is the area of the retina with the highest concentration of cones and the area responsible for the sharp central vision. Some patients can develop areas out side the fovea (extrafoveal) to begin to develop sharp central vision. Recently NIDEK has developed a machine called the MP-1 Microperimeter to measure retinal sensitivity and helps to locate the best area to develop this extra foveal location. It helps patients with poor fixation through an auditory feedback to locate this extrafoveal location and develop improvement of visual acuity and function. A recent study showed that patients after 10 weeks of treatment had a statistical improvement of vision, fixation stability and reading rate (words/min)

This is very exciting news and I am planning a trail using the NIDEK MP-1 Microperimeter. Please call the office if you are interested in participating in this study. 1-800-430-9328

Portable home device to help improve vision function.
In the fall of 2003, Pacific University College of Optometry conducted the first independent clinical study of the EYEPORT Vision Training System. This carefully-controlled study demonstrated that using the EYEPORT Vision Training System for 10 minutes a day, over a 3-week period, resulted in statistically significant improvements in the following areas:

  • Aiming, tracking, focusing and teaming
  • Dynamic depth perception
  • Reading efficiency and comprehension

This home device is now becoming part of our 3 day program. We are incorporating this along with our standard treatments of homeopathy, syntonic color therapy and microcurrent.

Stereo Sue Tells Her Story — Gaining Stereo Vision at the Age of 48. 
A story from 
I was diagnosed with strabismus (alternating esotropia) as an infant and underwent three surgeries at ages 2, 3, and 7 in years (1956, 1957, and 1961). I maintained good vision in both eyes, but I was stereo-blind. I did not have normal two-eyed depth perception (stereo vision).

I did not use my eyes together until I did Vision Therapy in 2002. In 2002, at the age of 48, I went to a developmental optometrist in Massachusetts for an eye exam. I complained to her that the world appeared to shimmer at a distance. She explained that the shimmering was due to binocular rivalry [the rivalry between the two eyes which did not work together]. She also discovered that my left eye saw five prism diopters above my right eye [hypertropia]. She placed a prism in my right eyeglass lens to correct this vertical misalignment. She then started me on Vision Therapy eye teaming and eye alignment exercises.

After only two therapy sessions, the world began to “pop out.” It is impossible to describe how exciting this was. For the first time, at age 48, I saw the space between leaves and branches on trees. Light fixtures appeared to float, sink faucets stuck way out into space. Snowflakes drifted down from the sky in a beautiful three-dimensional dance.

Actually, my optometrist was not surprised when I experienced 3D vision. It was explained to me that this has happened to many other people when alignment of the two eyes is achieved through vision therapy. Through the internet, I have found other adults who have also gained stereo vision later in life with vision therapy.
Several people have told me that three-dimensional vision (stereo vision) is no big deal, but these are people who have had good stereo vision all their lives.
Susan R. Barry, Ph.D.
Chair, Neuroscience and Behavior, Mount Holyoke College
Sue Barry is featured as Stereo Sue in Oliver Sacks’ article on stereo vision, The New Yorker magazine, June 19, 2006.

Read Sue Barry’s exciting book, Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist’s Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensions

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