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

I had not 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 according to the packaging 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 movie’s other actors. I was caught off guard when Myers first appeared on screen, because of the marked strabismus he exhibited. His fans may 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!

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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 on you tube that I referenced above 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 and they love that one! I’m wondering if strabismus is not portrayed in movies because so many of us would potentially be offended if that were the case.

Update on My Natural Yeast Adventure

My initial excitement in experimenting with natural yeast has worn off. Most of it was squelched by my family and I have realized that I should have probably gone about the whole process in a totally different way. I wanted to try everything at once and they were not so anxious. Therefore, they were the guinea pigs when the recipe didn’t turn out quite right or when I tried the one that had a stronger flavor than they were prepared for.

My husband actually complained that his sweat smelled sour because of all the sourdough in his system. I didn’t notice it, but he seemed to think it was a real problem! The bottom line here is that I may have gone a little overboard in applying this new practice in my cooking.

How many other things in life can this little idea apply to?

My children have continued to beg for me to just let the yeast die! I dehydrated some as a precaution in case that actually occurred, and then I practiced controlled disregard. I kept the natural yeast start in the door of the refrigerator like usual, but I didn’t look at it very often. Then, when it looked really hungry, I would feed it and then use a little in some waffles or English muffins (the items that got the least complaints), or just feed a cups worth and throw the rest away.

This has continued for a while now. The bread in the freezer actually got used without too much complaint and yesterday I decided to make bread again. Summer vacation is almost here and we’ll want sandwiches for lunch. This time I used the recipe that Melissa Richardson (author of The Art of Baking with Natural Yeastindicated was the most acceptable to those who are not excited about sourdough.DSCN2844I’m pretty sure that my family knows it’s sourdough because I forgot about it last night when I was supposed to do the second raise and bake it, so it got an extra long rise time (like 18 hours instead of 12).

This morning when I remembered, it had much more than doubled in volume! I made sure to use my timer that has to be manually turned off to time the 2 ½ hour rise so I wouldn’t forget. The bread is not as pretty because of the extra time raising, but it is nice and light. I love it! DSCN2845I hope my family will find it more palatable. There is still a mild sourdough flavor, but I plan to have enough molasses on hand for next time. I didn’t have quite the recommended amount yesterday and was loath to go to the store just then. The molasses is supposed to really mask the sourdough flavor. If they want different bread, they know how to make it, and I will at least have bread for me:) I thought about just making sourdough items when they’re not around, but the long rise times make that a bit difficult. They’re bound to notice when there’s dough sitting on the counter, covered with a damp towel. Little by little, I’m determined to convert them, just like I’ll convert my eyes to seeing in stereo!

Discovering Phantograms

My behavioral optometrist, Dr. Davies,  recently shared a fun new book with me, as well as the accompanying website. The book is entitled Pop-Up 3D: Discover Phantograms, Fantastic & Fun Natural 3D Pop-Ups, by Barry Rothstein, Steve Hughes & Steve Boddy. images-1The website is http://www.3ddigitalphoto.com/default.asp. The fun part for me is that I can actually see the 3D images and I don’t have to be as close to the image as when I look at the Magic Eye books. My hope is that I can gradually work to expand my range and depth by looking at these images.

I have a sense that the images could pop more than they are presently for me, and that’s what I’ll be working on as well.  My ten-year-old daughter Abby, who I have mentioned in previous posts, really enjoyed looking at this book. Abby is like the miniature version of me as far as strabismus is concerned, but has now developed wonderful 3D vision. I asked her how high the images were popping and I feel that she sees them more true-to life than I do. For me the image is at a slight slant rather than standing straight up on the page.

Both resources explain that phantograms are images that are drawn or photographed to imitate normal vision. When viewed with red/blue glasses (with blue on the right eye) the images leap off the page. The image is intended to be flat on a table or desk, or on your knees and you view it at a 45 degree angle.  They have a cool tutorial on the website that tells you how you can photograph your own phantograms. Apparently it’s a bit tricky, so I probably won’t be trying it anytime soon!

They also include a cool freebie on the website, an image of the week. phantview(www.3ddigitalphoto.com/ImageOfTheWeek.asp.) They allow you to print one for your own use, since it needs to be viewed while laying flat. I attempted to print out the image for this week and it wanted to print on two pages, (just a bit of it on one page, but I didn’t print it). There’s probably a trick to resizing and getting it on one page, but I didn’t figure it out. However, I did print page three which included images of the week for 5-25-13 through 2-16-13. The images were pretty small, but I could see them popping off the page. I just had to get a little closer than I do when viewing the book.

The website is also a great place to buy the books (with imperfect copies at a discount) as well as replacement 3D glasses and 3D note cards. The cards are $3.75 (or less in bulk) and come with the 3D glasses to view the image. If you have some 3D glasses with blue on the right eye, you are all set to print out that image of the week and check it out!

The Bodywork Factor

As I have watched others complete vision therapy successfully, I have wondered what I am missing. One of the things I have done to facilitate whole body healing for myself is bodywork, specifically structural integration. Later in this post I’ll detail some other modalities that seem to be working for vision healing.

So, what is bodywork? I’m not talking about car repair here!  I originally thought that bodywork was a term reserved for the structural integration that provided the cure that I’ll detail later in this post. But bodywork actually includes a whole range of energy work and other physical bodywork modalities.

Wikipedia says: “Bodywork is a term used in alternative medicine to describe any therapeutic or personal development technique that involves working with the human body in a form involving manipulative therapy, breath work, or energy medicine. In addition bodywork techniques aim to assess or improve posture, promote awareness of the “body-mind connection” rather than the “mind-body connection,,” or to manipulate the so-called  “energy field” surrounding the human body and affecting health.” Wikipedia goes on to list various non-touch forms of bodywork: reiki, yoga, pranayama, breathwork respiration techniques, therapeutic touch, Bates method for sight training, qigong, and t’ai chi. Forms of manipulative bodywork include: the Alexander technique, applied kinesiology, Bowen technique, chiropractic, Feldenkrais method, hakomi, postural integration, reflexology, Rolfing, shiatsu, structural integration, somatic experiencing, Trager approach, polarity therapy and re-balancing.

The article also mentions that “deep tissue massage therapy and the terms massage and bodywork are often used interchangeably.”

I first became introduced to bodywork in 2007. Up until that point, I actually had an aversion to many of the types of “body work.” They seemed a little too “woo-woo” or “out there” for me. I had a Reiki session with a friend who was training in Reiki, I’ve done a little yoga and been introduced to t’ai chi, and feel they are also helpful types of “bodywork.” However, the type I had good results with was structural integration.

I am convinced there is a connection between body and eye alignment. I haven’t been able to find the article again, but I came across something that made the connection between crossed eyes and crossed feet. This is very personal for me because I was born with pigeon toes. When I was an infant, the doctor put me in casts to correct my feet. After the treatment, the doctor said that even though my feet still turned in slightly, I would correct the rest myself. I recall entering a building with windowed doors with my parents when I was about five years old and noticing my feet weren’t straight. I must have asked my mom about it and she told me what the doctor had said. I made a conscious effort after that to point my feet straight.

When I was in high school, foot pain led me to seek help from a podiatrist who prescribed orthodics, which I would apparently always need. X-rays showed that every bone in each of my feet was in the wrong place. The podiatrist said it could be corrected with surgery, but there was no guarantee of success. I could not imagine them trying to move each of the 52 bones in my feet!

ImageAs a result, I wore orthodics for the next 28 years. Then I discovered bodywork and had the full 12-week session of visits with Ruth Young Bodyworks. After my structural integration practitioner, Ruth, worked on my feet, my extremely high arches were lowered to normal, the hump on the top of each foot was gone, and I threw away my orthodics. They no longer fit my feet anyway! And my feet felt great! Ruth also taught me some exercises to do to keep my feet well. My whole body was aligned properly at last.

There are probably people out there who will say this is an impossible result, including my podiatrists (one who retired and one who I never returned to visit). I am not an isolated case, however. My oldest daughter experienced the same result. She went through foot braces and corrective shoes as an infant, wore orthodics from the time she was 5, and also tossed them after structural integration in high school. IT WORKS!

Other approaches:

I recently discovered a blog where they used a combination of energy kinesiology, chiropractic and vision therapy to treat their adopted 2-year-old daughter’s strabismus. https://offkltr.com/2012/08/14/strabismus.  Apparently she hasn’t updated in the past year*, but it sounded like a rather novel, whole body approach to healing. (*she updated in 2014 here:https://offkltr.com/2014/06/08/laurens-eyes-holistic-treatment-plan/). 

I also came across a man who healed his strabismus through the Alexander technique combined with the Eyebody method by Peter Grunwald. (http://see-movement.blogspot.com/2011/07/eyebody-method.html

21 Day Vision Challenge

Back in mid-January I decided I wanted to start a new program for vision improvement. It’s from the “Renewing your vision” chapter in a book entitled The Power Behind Your Eyes: Improving Your Eyesight with Integrated Vision Therapy, by Robert-Michael Kaplan. 1041614It’s the kind of thing that occurs when I make New Year’s resolutions and get a little carried away!

The Guidelines for the Twenty-One-Day Program are as follows:

• Obtain a weaker 20/40 prescription (I have been doing this for a couple of years now).

• Wear your lenses only during life-threatening situations. (This is very difficult because I can’t really see to do much of anything without lenses.)

• Eliminate all red meat and dairy products from your diet. ( I was already almost there. Just had to cut out the occasional sour cream and ice cream.)

• Use no added sugar or foods with sugar. (Sugar is everywhere, so this was also very difficult.) • Use no white-flour products. (No big problem.)

• Consume no alcohol or bottled or canned prepared drinks. (No problem.) • Use no cigarettes, tobacco, recreational drugs, caffeine drinks, or unnecessary medications. (also easy.)

• Wear a patch each day for twenty-one days for a maximum of four hours per day. (This one I interpreted to the current recommendations of my behavioral optometrist who told me to wear a bi-nasal patch. So I did that every day with occasional patching of my dominant eye.)

• Watch no late-night television (No problem.)

• Do not read for pleasure (novels, magazines) or do crossword puzzles. (This was tougher because I love to read. So I decided that all the reading had to be for information about vision therapy or health. That means I still did a fair amount of reading, but I justified it for the cause!)

• Take up singing, drawing, painting, sculpting, or writing. (I took up quilt piecing. It has become so addictive that one class wasn’t enough, I limited myself to two classes though–each once a month with two quilt blocks assigned for each class.)

•Play vision games each day. (Already committed to doing this!) • Eat grains, vegetables, legumes, and other healthy foods enriched with sea vegetables such as kelp, kombu, wakame, arame and hijiki. (OK, I must admit I didn’t get on board with the sea vegetables, but the rest of the eating plan was reasonable for me.)

• Keep a daily diary. (For this I started another program called Transform your Life through Handwriting by Vimala Rodgers. I probably didn’t keep adequate track of everything I should be doing as I journaled, but at least I wrote something every day. It’s a 40-day program.  I actually kept this up until March 30.)

• Exercise or move your body for at least fifteen minutes each day. (I figured that on the days I don’t do my 20 minutes of yoga, I do at least 15 minutes of housework.)

As if all of these guidelines weren’t challenge enough, I decided to combine this program with a diet program called The Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin. Basically you cut out the seven most problematic foods: gluten, eggs, sugar and artificial sweeteners, soy, corn, dairy and peanuts. I figured that since I was already on board with the dietary guidelines in the 21-day program, I might as well take it a step or two further. My biggest challenge is sugar, which is cut on either plan. The initial program for The Virgin Diet was also 21 days, so it seemed like the perfect compliment.

In actuality, it was pretty difficult, mostly in the diet area. It didn’t help that we celebrated 3 birthdays during that 21-day period. Finally on the evening of day 20, I had cake and ice cream with my family. I felt better  physically while I was on the program, but since my goal was to improve my vision, and I didn’t experience a great breakthrough, it was hard to stick to it. I’m not sure what kind of improvement would have enticed me to continue–maybe some degree of stereopsis? So, I returned to my regular, mostly-healthy diet and my regular vision therapy program.

Last month, I did a little experiment with taking really good eye-health supplement and a multi-vitamin, which improved how my eyes felt but was pretty expensive. (I’m noticing the difference without them though.) Next on the docket is a combination approach, something that I feel I can really follow long term.

The E.Y.E. unit (i.e. Eyeport Vision Training System)

This week my doc let me borrow a high-tech gadget for vision training called the E.Y.E unit, or Eyeport Vision Trainng System.  It was produced by The Sharper Image a few years ago and is the same item that Dr. Jacob Liberman* sells on his http://www.exerciseyoureyes.com website for $239.95. It is patented and available through various other distributors as well, including Bernell**, who sells VT products to developmental optometrists.

(Update: As of Feb. 2020, *Dr. Liberman’s website seems to no longer be active.**Bernell has it listed here for $299.95 on their website: https://www.bernell.com/product/JLEPV2/Brock-String-Devices#minicart_a.  They have a sample training schedule available here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.bernell.com/downloads/BRMJLEPV2-Weekly%20Schedule.pdf. This is not the complete manual which is included with purchase of the unit.)

The manual was missing so I went online and found it on Dr. Liberman’s website. There is a plan for 12 weeks of exercises, which take less than ten minutes a day. I’m thinking that could be part of my regular regimen. A study done by the Pacific University College of Optometry was reported in the Journal of the American Optometric Association where it was found to effect small improvement in college students with normal vision. (http://www.optometryjaoa.com/article/S1529-1839(06)00485-4/abstract)  That was October 2006 and they indicated that studies were underway to determine its effectiveness in “symptomatic populations.” That would be me. I found another report that same year in the Journal for Behavioral Optometry that indicated improvement in function for police recruits. (http://www.oepf.org/journal/pdf/jbo-volume-17-issue-4-use-eyeport-vision-training-system-enhance-visual-performance-poli).

I found no follow-up studies specific to my situation, but it’s also available through the Optometric Extension Program Foundation *(http://www.oepf.org/products/category/vision-therapy?page=2). I figure that if it were going to be discredited, there has been ample time for that. (*Update: I’m no longer finding it on their website)

The website http://www.exerciseyoureyes.com gives this clear definition of the way it works:Image

It’s Really Simple
How the Eyeport Vision Training System works is really quite simple. Your eyes’ focusing muscles flex and relax when they follow the EYEPORT’s programmed series of alternating red and blue lights. Because the lights turn on in different directions, patterns and speeds, your eyes exercise through their full range of motion—horizontally, vertically, diagonally, near, and far. And you don’t even work up a sweat.

Since you often focus at close range while reading or working at a computer, your focusing system becomes stiff and cramped causing computer eye strain. Limbering up your eyes as part of a daily routine will retrain them to work the way they’re supposed to…and you’ll be well on your way to improving your visual performance. All you have to do is commit to a daily 10-minute workout to see results.

And It’s Patented
What makes the EYEPORT unique is its patented use of alternating red and blue lights. This makes it possible to achieve dramatic results, faster and more efficiently than with any other vision exercise product available today.

“Using the EYEPORT is like opening up a new world. My eyes feel stronger, more active and more alert. There’s more to see and interact with. It makes me a more efficient athlete and has made me more comfortable and relaxed in a broad range of activities. I was amazed at the way it changed my life.”Rick Chetnever, Kula, HI

Basically, your eyes react differently to red and blue lights due to a scientific phenomenon called chromatic aberration. The focusing system contracts when it sees red and relaxes looking at blue. By combining eye exercises with specific colored lights, the EYEPORT strengthens your vision skills in a revolutionary new way never previously done. And it’s easy.

I admit it is pretty easy and quick. I did a little more today than the prescribed amount, testing out the various program settings. Now that I have the training schedule, I’ll be more focused in my efforts! Stay tuned for the update!

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!