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Strabismus in the movies: Mike Myers in “View from the Top”

I haven’t seen strabismus mentioned specifically in a movie until I watched View from the Top with Gwyneth Paltrow, Candice Bergen, Kelly Preston, Rob Lowe, Christina Applegate, Mark Ruffalo and comic Mike Myers. I frequently pick up movies at garage sales for $1 and was attracted to this 2003 movie because it’s “In the hilarious style of Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama,”  movies which I enjoyed. I am not a big Mike Myers fan, but I like the other actors. I was caught off guard when Myers first appeared on screen, because of the marked strabismus he exhibited. I’m sure his fans have seen his cross-eyed antics, but it was new to me.

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View from the Top: left focus

There is a scene in the movie that was so familiar to me, where he is interviewing job applicants and they give him “that look.” You know, the one where they try to decide which eye he is looking at them with. There’s also the familiar “look over your shoulder to see if he’s looking at someone behind you” moment. The clip on youtube is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLm4oCbovsE. He makes the strabismus joke in this clip too. A strabismic can appreciate how true-to-life this moment really is. I felt his pain throughout the movie because his strabismus held him back from achieving his dream. And the movie is not even about him! (I had an infant in 2003 when this movie came out, my sixth, so it’s no surprise I missed it then.)

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Right focus

Other images of Myers on the internet don’t show this pronounced eye turn, so I speculated for a while on how he has the eye control to be that cross-eyed at will. A closer look at other photos indicate that he is right-eye dominant (like me) and his eyes look pretty straight when he uses his dominant eye. But, in this movie he chooses to use his left, non-dominant eye, and the turn is quite pronounced. I’m speculating because it’s something I have noticed in myself, but these photos illustrate what I’m talking about: focusing with the right eye vs. the left.

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Right focus

The clip actually cuts out Kelly Preston’s character’s last remark, which is also so accurate to what I have experienced. She mentions his eye and then says “Oh, I didn’t notice.” Yea, right.! It’s over the top in making fun of the airline industry as well as strabismus. Rated PG-13 for language and sexual references, I may let my younger children see it and fast forward through the objectionable parts. They were watching when I was looking for the clip though and thought it was “stupid.” In this type of comedy, that’s pretty much the point.  Legally Blonde is equally extreme in it’s characterizations.

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Another reason to see a 3D movie

I read a post Monday on the blog “Wide-Eyed Wonder: An artist’s musings on three-dimensional vision” where Lynda Rimke shares her experience seeing a 3D movie while still in vision therapy (http://leavingflatland.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/life-of-3-1415926535-8979323846-2643383279-etc/). Leaving the movie theatre, she actually experienced “float,” or three dimensional effects in real life. I was intrigued, and wondered if that would be possible for me. So at Tuesday’s vision therapy appointment I asked Dr. Davies about it. Lynda had recently gotten a new pair of glasses with prisms before this 3D movie experience. I have had some success while using a prism in therapy sessions, so I saw a possible connection. Dr. Davies gave me some stick on prisms for the 3D glasses and encouraged me to try it.

imagesAs luck would have it, the very movie Lynda saw, Life of Pi, is currently showing at our local budget theatre in 3D for only $3.25. It has been years (maybe 10) since I took my kids to a 3D movie, mostly because I can’t see it, so it seemed like a big waste of money. In retrospect, I realize that was a fairly selfish way of looking at the 3D experience. I took four of my children (the ones currently at home) to yesterday’s matinee. Two of them finished vision therapy a few months ago and this was their first 3D movie experience since then. None of them remembered seeing a movie in 3D before.

My ten-year-old daughter was especially enthralled with the special effects. It really was a beautiful movie! I saw the “falling in” effects more than the things popping out and had a headache by the end. But I can see the potential. Things looked a little different when I exited the theatre. Without the prisms, my eyes soon reverted back to their regular way of seeing. And my eyes were really tired! However, I enjoyed the movie and especially appreciated my daughter’s delight at the 3D effects.

I have been wearing a pair of clear glasses (i.e. pink party glasses) that are taped to provide a bi-nasal patch. That way I can wear my contacts and take the glasses off at will. I bought an extra pair when I misplaced the first, so I had the brilliant realization that I could play around with the prisms on my extra pair. I’m thinking driving with prisms isn’t a good idea, but otherwise it gives me a different perspective that may encourage more fusion. Even if the 3D movie didn’t help me (and I’m hopeful it did), at least my children got to enjoy it!