Vision therapy update: Welcoming depth

When I learned I had poor depth perception at my first binocular vision exam last year, I was surprised. “But I do see in 3-D!”

My developmental optometrist, who had gone through vision therapy herself, told me about her experience as she went through the program: “I knew that noses stuck out of faces. But one day, I was like, ‘Wow, noses really do stick out of faces!'”

While I’ve noticed quite a few changes, including feeling more at ease with driving in and greater awareness of objects in my peripheral vision, I hadn’t experienced something like that…until now.

I’m guessing that this has been happening gradually, that this change isn’t as sudden as it seems. But yesterday in my session, I was describing to my occupational therapist about an experience I had the night before, after doing my vision therapy homework: I was reading a book, and it was as if the page had depth, like the words lifted slightly away from the page. And I was a little unnerved, thinking, pages don’t have depth, they have spacing. After reviewing similar exercises during our appointment, I was looking at and out the window, and it was as if the windowsill were moving slightly toward me, and like everything else gained a little more definition, perspective, dimension. Foreground and background gained deeper meaning. I looked at my OT and noticed how the light hit the side of her head, defining the soft roundness there.

When I realized what was happening, my nervous system freaked out. I startled and  felt tears come to my eyes. This visual stimuli felt like so much, and so new.

Today, I’m continuing to notice the greater dimension of the world around me. I find it fascinating at moments, and unsettling at others. I thought I was seeing the world in a certain way, and perhaps to a certain extent, I was…but not like this. In drawing classes, I learned about shadows and perspective and how to create the impression of depth. Intellectually, I understood it. In reality, it looks like I was missing a vital part of the visual piece – I knew what I should see, but perhaps I didn’t actually see it that way.

I stop myself at moments, to close my eyes briefly or to do a quick grounding exercise. I want to savor my growing depth perception, and at the same time, I don’t want to overwhelm my system.

Now, I want to share my experience, to ask: Do you know how that shadow defines the side of your nose? Or how that round wire [for beading/wire wrapping] is actually really round? Have you noticed the intricacies of the weave of that pillow, without touching it? When you look at that cloud, do you see its depth, how the different shades of white and grey make it look like a fortress in the sky?

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