Achieving Stereopsis

I have written this post a hundred times in my mind over the course of the last year and two months. You’d think I would be so excited to share the news that it would have written itself, but apparently you’d be wrong. It has taken me a while to accept the fact that success doesn’t have to look like I wanted it to look.
In December 2017, I made the decision I had been avoiding for years and made an appointment to see an ophthalmologist about eye surgery. Prior to this decision, I had exhausted every possible vision therapy option, including waiting for Dr. Davies to be trained in Syntonics. I was the first patient to use the protocol, even though they encouraged him to not choose the most difficult patient first. I didn’t notice any improvement, so that didn’t last long.
The determining factor in making this choice was that I was reading again in Susan Barry’s book Fixing my Gaze and came across the spot where she talked about how it’s possible to gain stereopsis when the eyes are properly aligned. (I haven’t been able to find the exact quote, an issue which I have used as an excuse to not write this blog post.) She had eye surgery as a child and had enjoyed good cosmetic results, (i.e. her eyes were aligned prior to vision therapy.) Reading that statement hit me with such force! I said to myself “that’s what I’m missing! I can’t make my eyes align, so my brain can’t do what I’ve been trying to teach it!” I had been hoping that when my brain knew, my eyes would cooperate, but that wasn’t happening.
It’s probably a mystery to most people why I was so resistant to surgery. Basically, I just don’t go to any doctors, so the only doctor I had seen in years was my vision therapy optometrist, Dr. Davies. I gave birth to my last four babies at home with a midwife and any time someone gets sick I pull out the homeopathic remedies. Even though my brother had eye muscle surgery as an infant and young child, with good results, I didn’t want to go under the knife. We tend to hear all the horror stories about surgery instead of all the successes!
In July 2016, I started receiving insurance benefits at work after years of having no insurance, but my deductible was $4500. So between my ideological and financial constraints, I was decidedly against surgery.
With my insurance came a health savings account, where I was able to accumulate some funds towards the deductible and my mom offered to help because she knew how much it meant to me to resolve my eye issues. My excuses were evaporating and I finally realized that my dream of achieving stereopsis with vision therapy alone was at an end.

 

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Just before surgery

Dr. David Petersen was recommended to me by my vision therapy optometrist, Dr. Jarrod Davies. At my preliminary visit in January, I met Dr. Petersen and his staff and felt very comfortable with them. He went over what he would recommend and completed initial testing. They were getting a new machine in their office that measured stereopsis ability and wanted to test me before scheduling the surgery to make sure I wouldn’t end up with double vision. I readily agreed to wait for the machine to arrive. It took a little longer than expected, but I when I completed the testing, I did exceptionally well. I’m sure it was due to all the vision therapy I’ve done over the past few years. My eyes wanted to work together, they just needed alignment.

Surgery was scheduled and I was told I would need to wear glasses for a few weeks with a prism attached to the left lens. The prism was designed to mimic the change that would occur in my vision with the surgery. I haven’t worn glasses full time since I was 15 years old, so that brought back all kinds of unpleasant feelings from my childhood, and the prism made my eyes look pretty funny. It seemed to bother me the most though, and before I knew it the day for surgery arrived. My eyes looked their very worst right before the surgery because of the effects of the prism.
The staff at the hospital were amazing and encouraging, telling me how great my doctor was. My mom drove me there and waited during the procedure. It went extremely well and I was soon on my way home to recuperate. After two doses of pain killers I decided to go with my homeopathic remedy, Arnica. I finished the antibiotic recommended, but otherwise just took Arnica. I had the surgery on Thursday, March 23, 2017 and was back to work by Monday, March 27.  I took it easy physically for a couple of days, but basically continued my normal routine.  My eyes were pretty red initially, but when I went back for my one week checkup, Dr. Petersen was amazed at how quickly I was recovering.
I attribute my quick recovery to my choices regarding medication and my healthy lifestyle, but also feel very blessed that the process was so easy. Emotionally, though, I was still grieving the fact that I had to resort to surgery. My eyes feel different than they did before the surgery. It’s difficult to explain, but it feels like it did when I wore the prism. I can feel that they work differently. Sometimes I forget about it and everything seems normal. Then I wonder whether I am fusing correctly and the feeling returns.
A few days after the surgery I returned to vision therapy and had a weekly session for several more months. I had a little bit of double vision initially, but nothing like what I had experienced prior to the surgery. At the conclusion of my therapy, Dr. Davies said my vision is comparable to Sue Barry’s. I am grateful!
IMG_5766 (1)It’s taken me a long time, but I have accepted the fact that for some of us, surgery is a necessary component to achieving more normal vision. I’m glad it wasn’t necessary for my daughter or my son, and that they were able to have vision therapy in their youth.  But for me, eye muscle surgery was the key to success.  My intention in sharing my story is to reassure others that the solutions are there, we just have to find our way to the appropriate option for our individual needs.
Feel free to comment below. I plan to post additional updates regularly from now on.
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