Archives

3D Movies as Vision Therapy

Some time ago, I came across an article from the BBC about a man named Bruce Bridgeman who went to see the movie “Hugo” in 3D. It was February 2012 and he thought it would be a waste of money because he was essentially stereoblind (unable to see in 3D, ie not able to perceive depth) since birth. The 67-year-old neuroscientist was surprised to find that he could see the characters leaping from the screen and was able to appreciate a whole new dimension of sight. To his surprise, the effects lasted after he left the theatre, and he continued to see in 3D. In his words “Riding to work on my bike, I look into a forest beside the road and see a riot of depth, every tree standing out from all the others.” I tried to track him down for an interview, and found only an obituary indicating he died on July 10, 2016 in a tragic accident in Taiwan. The entire BBC article about his 3D movie experience is available here: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20120719-awoken-from-a-2d-world.

I’m not remembering now whether I knew of his experience before I went to my first 3D movie, but I blogged about that initial experience where I saw a little depth in the movie, Life of Pi on May 9, 2013. I indicated in that blog that the decision was spurred by the experience of Lynda Rimke https://leavingflatland.wordpress.com/category/3d-movies-and-gaming/. She had seen some depth while using prism glasses and enjoyed Life of Pi very much. She also had blogged about Bruce Bridgeman’s experience and that may also be where I learned of him.

Although I experienced some 3D effects when watching Life of Pi, I didn’t try viewing 3D movies again until I had achieved some stereopsis. I have made it a point to consult the website CinemaBlend: To 3D or not to 3D, where they rate the movies for their 3D effects. Some of the movies that were available I chose not to see because the 3D effects were not considered to be very good. I figured it wouldn’t be a good test of my own 3D ability if there wasn’t much of anything to see.

Following my eye surgery, I started using 3D movies at the discount theatre as an excuse to have a movie date with my daughter who also completed her vision therapy. It became our vision therapy refresher and we both noticed enhanced 3D effects in the real world after viewing a movie in 3D. I remember in particular feeling amazed at how beautifully the trees defined the road, almost like a tunnel as I drove home, and alternately being a little anxious when the snow came at my windshield during a snowstorm. It had never had that depth and direction before.

Now, during the covid-19 pandemic, it’s become nearly impossible to see a 3D movie at the theatre. Interestingly enough, a few months ago (before covid hit), I decided to buy a used 3D TV for $150. It’s been an excellent investment, even though I currently only have 2 pairs of glasses (and they’re fairly pricey). I have begun investing in some of the best 3D movies and can now engage in my 3D movie vision therapy in the comfort of my own home!

There doesn’t seem to be much data about 3D movies as vision therapy. I’d love some feedback on whether you or someone you know has used 3D movies as vision therapy and what the results have been.

Vision Therapy in isolation

We’ve all been shut down and isolated for several weeks at least. I don’t know about you, but it’s taking a toll on everyone at my house. By now vision therapy patients have had plenty of time to miss their therapy sessions and wonder what to do on their own. I hope you’ve found some helpful tools. Some eye doctors have previously created at home programs to share with their patients, and others are rapidly scaling up to provide more options for VT at home. You’ve probably already asked your doctor for recommendations and searched online for options. Today I’m sharing a couple of my favorite free (or almost free) resources:

  1. Optics Trainer: This is a program used in VT doctor’s offices and they have a home program that doctors can implement as well. The professional version is pretty expensive and requires a prescription from your doctor for at-home use. Since I’m done with office therapy and just need periodic refreshers at home, I found they have a free app with recommendations for a home vision workout. I have enjoyed it and you may want to check it out on the App Store or on Google play.

2. I’ve shared it before but I still enjoy playing the SET game. It’s good for getting both sides of your brain functioning together. There’s a daily puzzle and SET Mania both available on the App Store. I found SET Mania on Google play as well for $1.99. There are some other SET games available for android phones as well. I don’t have an android, so I haven’t tried any of them but it looks like they operate on the same principle.

3. I included some relaxation exercises in previous posts, but now is a good time to practice relaxing your eyes, palming, getting some sun and basically taking care of yourself. Eating healthy will also contribute to your eye health. I have followed Tyler Sorensen at rebuildyourvision.com for many years and found that he consistently provides helpful, well researched information on eye health. He sells eye vitamins on his site as well.

4. There are many books available on Amazon written by VT doctors that provide games for therapy at home. I haven’t checked out all of them but I do have Eyegames: easy and fun visual exercises, an occupational therapist and Optometrist offer activities to improve vision! by Lois Hickman and Rebecca Hutchins.

In their book, Hickman and Hutchins provide foundational activities, eye movement exercises, eye-hand and eye-body activities and a large range of other games for vision development. It’s geared to children, but any adult who has done vision therapy knows that we all end up playing the same vision development games anyway. There are also some book options available on Kindle that I”m anxious to check out.

Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/3hypssH

Stay safe and keep up the vision development as much as possible! I am rooting for you!

Healing from traumatic brain injury and stroke

Recently a good friend who is around my age (50s) suffered a stroke due to complications of kidney failure and the accompanying dialysis. I was very concerned about her and asked about the damage she incurred from the stroke. She explained that it was mainly her vision that had been affected and she was no longer able to read or even view TV or screens of any kind. She was suffering from extreme boredom because most of the things she enjoys doing use those basic visual functions. She is very familiar with my story and knows that I did years of vision therapy, but it didn’t occur to her that her situation might prompt such work. So I recommended that she see a vision therapy doctor as soon as possible. Luckily she was able to do so and is on the mend. It’s not the first thing doctors recommend though, so it really pays to be informed!

I recently came across an interesting article by Amy Zellmer (https://www.healio.com/optometry/primary-care-optometry/news/blogs/%7B194db35c-f748-4af2-a3ee-eea6db7fb936%7D/neuro-optometric-rehabilitation-association0international/blog-what-i-wish-my-doctors-knew) where she details the pain and debilitating symptoms she endured because of her mild traumatic brain injury and what she wished her doctors knew. They are things that really should be broadly understood. I continue to be amazed that so often people don’t realize there is help available. Effects of the mild traumatic brain injury included aphasia, short-term memory problems, difficulty processing multiple stimuli and visual-vestibular symptoms, such as dizziness, poor tracking, fixation and saccades. She shared all the details in her book Life with a Traumatic Brain Injury: Finding the Road Back to Normal. She finally found vision therapy and was able to heal. The five things she lists in her article are:

“–Even a mild concussion can cause significant visual-vestibular problems.

–Symptoms may be immediate or take some time to manifest and they can last months or years after the injury.

–Rest is not sufficient to resolve the symptoms.

–Vision therapy isn’t just for children — it can help adults like me, too.

–The Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association is a good resource for finding doctors and therapists who can treat mTBI sufferers.”

If you want to see the entire post, it’s available here: https://www.healio.com/optometry/primary-care-optometry/news/blogs/%7B194db35c-f748-4af2-a3ee-eea6db7fb936%7D/neuro-optometric-rehabilitation-association-international/blog-what-i-wish-my-doctors-knew

I searched the website for the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) and was gratified to find my own doctor listed.  Here’s the link: https://noravisionrehab.org/ and the site looks like this:

NORA logoIf you have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury, it’s worth looking at getting that kind of help.