Teagen D. (38) is a game producer and programmer living in Seattle. As a child one of her eyes was patched and she had two strabismus surgeries at the ages of 1 and 12. She thinks the patching wasn’t very effective and the surgeries did more harm than good. “My pediatric ophthalmologist was a classic anti-Vision Therapy doctor. He told me I’d never improve my condition.”
In 2001, as a college student, Teagen started Vision Therapy at the age of 21. Over the last 17 years she has done 5 rounds of VT under the auspices of 5 different doctors. This has cost her thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars. “I’ve had lots of improvement in alignment, visual field expansion, acuity in my right eye, etc,” she said. But real (sensory) fusion kept eluding her.
“One of my most recent VT optometrists even told me I may have achieved as much as I could with VT and that fusion seemed to be out of reach. I don’t fault him for saying this. First off, I asked for his honest opinion. Second, all things indicated that this was probably true. VT takes time and money and it really seemed like I’d done as much as I could, achieved a lot of improvement and fusion just wasn’t in the cards.”
“Despite my stubborn optimism, I think deep down I’d finally decided to stop trying so hard. That maybe someday a new treatment option would offer some new hope, but in the mean time, I should just stop, take a break and relax a little. I think that would have been fine. As such, I almost canceled an appointment I had lined up with a 6th doctor.”
“Fortunately I did go to that appointment! Within an hour of meeting this doctor, he helped me achieve fusion (read below)! I do think, however, that all my previous doctors have helped lay the foundation for what I was able to achieve on this visit. I’m a good example of stick with it although I also feel incredibly lucky to have had the funds to pay for my therapy and lucky that I found this last doctor. As many strabismics know, VT can be a long and difficult road with no guarantees. I guess, with this post, I just wanted to acknowledge how hard so many of us work to try to get relief.”
He figured out that I have no optokinetic response in my right eye, for movement going from my nose out to my temple (nasal-temporal). My eye just stays still, but a normal eye would show optokinetic nystagmus.
Then he put on flicker glasses (https://www.good-lite.com/Details.cfm?ProdID=916) and polarized 3D glasses (the kind with just grey lenses, not different colored red green lenses) and had me look at a couple of tests. One test showed two circles to my left eye, with an L in the left circle and showed two circles to my right eye, with an R in the right circle.
Normally, I’d see double: 4 circles and the L and R and the image shown to my right eye would be up, to the right and rotated compared to the image shown to my left eye. Today, I saw just TWO circles totally vertically and horizontally aligned and the L and R were perfectly in the middle of each circle. I couldn’t believe it. I thought he was playing a trick on me!
Then, he had me look at a page with three rows of 5 cartoon animals. Each row had four 2D animals and one animal that would appear in 3D if I was fusing. I was able to pick out the 3D animal on all 3 lines with no problem. It didn’t “pop out” at me, but it looked fuzzy. He said that was fusion.
When he said this, I immediately started sobbing! :) It’s been a long road. I’ve now done vision therapy with six different doctors since about 2001. I’ve had lots of improvement in alignment, visual field expansion, acuity in my right eye, etc. But fusion was always the crown jewel that I knew I might never achieve. It was amazing today to know it was possible. Even with a cyclotorsion, aniseikonia, hypotropia, and exotropia. And when I got fusion today, none of these items were being corrected with lenses (beyond the improvements I achieved over the years via vision therapy).
Going forward, he’s going to create a VT plan I can do at home and I’ll go check in at the office every 3 weeks. His goal is to improve the nasal-temporal optokinetic nystagmus afflicting my right eye in order to, hopefully, enable me to fuse without the use of flicker glasses + 3D glasses.”