The eyes don’t have it.
I’ve always been proud of my perfect vision. I’ve bragged about it openly, and came to appreciate it even more after Stella’s visual challenges revealed the complexity and wonder of human eyesight. “I’m so lucky and blessed,” I thought, darting my hawk eyes around to appreciate my crystal clear view of life. Turns out it’s not that simple. News flash: My vision is decidedly imperfect. And if I hadn’t been so blinded by pride, perhaps, I would’ve realized it a lot sooner. But the realization didn’t come until Stella’s in-office vision therapy session today.
If you saw one of my recent posts at Little Four Eyes, you know about Stella’s experience with the quoits vectogram and how it showed that she can see in 3D! Well, today we did the same exercise, with a twist, and it showed that while Stella has a decent amount of stereoscopy, she has a hard time recovering 3D vision if the therapist “breaks” the illusion and then brings the sheets back into place for stereoscopic viewing. It takes Stella a long time to re-fuse the images after briefly losing fusion. It’s something we can work on, and greatly improve, according to our vision therapist. I feel confident that Stella will overcome this issue, and it helps that Stella was a rock star during vision therapy today. Her hand-eye coordination has come so very far. You should have seen her throwing beanbags into squares, tracking fluffy bumblebees, honing in on moving light-up targets, and stringing beads onto wobbly string! A thing of beauty, I tell you! Because of her improvement in this area, I’m now to shift our at-home vision therapy efforts toward making her eyes work across longer distances. Don’t ask me how I’ll capture her attention across the room. At times, I can barely achieve this with my face directly in hers. A way will be found, after much frustration and shouting in a chipper voice and bribing with chocolate chips. Or whatever.
At the end of today’s session, in an effort to help me understand the quoits vectogram, Stella’s vision therapist let me put on the polarized glasses and do the exercise myself. Drum roll, please… My performance was shockingly poor! And you know, I could tell before the therapist said a word. During the exercise, I sensed that it was taking my eyes (brain?) a long time to fuse the images. Simply put, it was difficult. “Maybe I have a vision problem,” I thought out loud, barely believing my plainly less-than-perfect eyes. According to the vision therapist, Stella actually performed better than me on the initial fusing of the rope circles! It took me longer! It seems I suppress input from one of my eyes when challenged to track closer objects and movement, but my eyes don’t cross the way Stella’s do. I’m guessing that’s because I don’t have Stella’s farsightedness, which puts extra stress on her eyes.
I was in shock! Sort of. But then I thought about a few incidents, and the testing results made sense. When I was in middle school, I tried refereeing a little kids’ soccer game. Fresh air, sunshine, control over younger humans–it seemed like the perfect way to earn money! But I forgot to add “barrage of insults” to the list of perks. The parents hated me, and heckled me like Red Sox fans at a Yankees game. It. Was. Brutal. They were a-holes, yes. But they weren’t wrong that I sucked. I absolutely could not follow the action close enough to make calls. Apparently, as the parents of one team made painfully clear, one kid was checking everyone else constantly. Oh I tried. But no matter how close I got or how hard I tried to lock my eyes on him, I just could not see what the parents were seeing. I couldn’t follow along, couldn’t catch the little movements. In a way, I felt blind. Clueless. Didn’t help that the parents turned me into their punching bag–that doesn’t tend to sharpen performance, you know? I still fume when I think about that, and if I could rewind my life and go back to that fall morning, I’d handle the scenario soooooo much differently. It would’ve involved a string of obscenities and several disturbing gestures. Perhaps assault with a deadly whistle. Nothing those kids didn’t see at home with their wildebeest parents, I’m sure.
Come to think of it, the same tracking issue plagued me during my sports career. Basketball was my passion, but I played pretty much on instinct and with general, big-picture court awareness. I swear that I never actually looked at anything in particular. I didn’t look at the basket when I shot, I didn’t look at the ball directly as I caught it. I didn’t look at my receiver when making a pass. Never actually even saw specific people in front of me while running a play as my high school team’s point guard. It worked out okay, but I was limited. I always wondered why I couldn’t get to the next level and become a really savvy, strategic player. I had the feeling that there was a deeper level of the game I couldn’t access, and it was frustrating. My husband doesn’t have that problem. He’s a fantastic, very tuned-in point guard who can watch individual players and movement and see the small details within the flow of the game. All I had was a very general sense of what was going on. Even though my eyesight has always been 20/20, somehow, it was foggy.
I now hope that, when all is said and done, and vision therapy and patching and early childhood are behind us, Stella will wind up with better vision than me. With her glasses, anyway. I couldn’t be happier (or prouder) about that possibility.
Excuse me while I go schedule an eye exam. For me. How refreshing.