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I have been in private practice since 1990. Every so often someone who has experienced the benefits of vision therapy feels inspired to share their feelings in writing. This is always a gratifying experience for me since, in many cases, the changes that take place are gradual and subtle. This means that people do not always notice even dramatic improvement. For example, many people have eliminated frequent, severe headaches without even noticing that something was different until I asked them. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to be a part of such a process whether the results are obvious to the individual or not. I am grateful to have the knowledge to act as a guide for those with the desire and courage to pursue the work of taking part in their own health maintenance. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the chance to hear, in someone's own words, that my work has really been powerful and appreciated. Very few feel compelled to put their thoughts in writing or video. I thought I’d share some of those personal displays of understanding and appreciation that I found particularly gratifying and inspirational.
February 5, 2018
I feel a grateful sense of relief when I put on my glasses – my prized, aqua-tinted lenses, prescribed by Dr. Gallop, that give me less than perfect vision on the eye chart but far greater comfort and functionality in my everyday life. Wow, what a relief and what a revelation to me.
I hesitate to blame all the optometrists I’ve been to over the years, as I was always asking for the most clear, crisp vision my lenses could provide (I assumed that was all there was) – loaded up with coatings to reduce glare, dust, and most recently, with progressive lenses. For me, that crispness came with a heavy price - my health. Headaches, eye strain, a hyped-up sympathetic nervous system leaving me feeling perpetually on edge and in pain. I can’t blame the lenses entirely, but they certainly significantly exacerbated my already compromised nervous system.
My initial visit to Dr. Gallop resulted in his recommending an immediate lowering of the strength of my lenses, using a specific lens material with no coatings. They felt a bit odd and everything in the distance was blurry at first, yet within minutes, they were calming. And very quickly (and to my surprise) I realized I could use these lenses comfortably for everything from reading to driving.
We have now methodically reduced my prescription several times as I continue to see better and better with weaker lenses. Also, the aqua tint continues to be so helpful for me that I wear these glasses 90% of the time. I still have my series of stronger glasses, which I use very sparingly, such as when driving at night or on a gloomy day on unfamiliar roads, or to see a small TV. It continues to be uncomfortable to spend much time with stronger lenses even though I can still see a little sharper with them on. And as these lenses cost far less than what I was previously prescribed, multiple changes have been a manageable expense.
Seeing Dr. Gallop weekly for exercises in his office to work on my visual process has made this reduction in the strength of my lenses possible for two reasons: 1) I’ve become comfortable (and now prefer) having less than 20/20 eyesight, and 2) my eyesight has actually improved through this process!
And to top it off, these weekly appointments in his office are like trips to a Fun House – games and exercises, often wearing prism glasses that wildly distort everything in view, causing bean bags to fly off in erratic directions, and me to laugh – a fun, challenging and supportive environment. All this, while improving my visual process, my overall health, and my life. I can’t ask for more than that. Thank you Dr. Gallop!
February 15, 2012
Hi Dr. Gallop,
I want to say that I continue to be amazed at the changes in Jesse. He reads a lot more – not just what he has to read, but for pleasure, and much more quickly than before. He also seems to enjoy writing much more. He told me the other day that he enjoys writing in the journal I got for him. Miracle! He also said that he thinks school has gotten easier and is a lot more fun. I have not made it any easier. He is just able to do it without getting headaches and being frustrated and tired. Score! In his P.E. co-op class, he was recently tested on ball skills and met every standard for his age. His teacher commented on how amazing his improvement has been over the last year. I am so thankful and he, of course, is thrilled.
I really appreciate all you have done.
Jesse and his brother, also a patient of mine made this Lego version of my vision therapy room
Learning To See: One Woman’s Experience With Vision Therapy
At one point during our time working together I asked Amy if she could put some of the things she had been describing to me during our work together into writing. I didn't realize at the time that Amy had a blog and had already posted what follows. I guess it slipped her mind as well at the time. Eventually she told me about her blog and I got to read the piece below. Amy was truly fun to work with and asked some great questions, and made some very insightful comments about what was happening to her as she went through her vision therapy program, and the various lens changes that were part of the process. We basically worked together for two years, over a three year period. The following was written about two thirds of the way into the therapy program. I will now turn this over to Amy…
Learning To See
August 4, 2011
If you had the chance to see the world with a completely different perspective than the one you are used to using, would you do it?
If you had the chance to see the world with different eyes, would you look?
I did it. Or rather, I am doing it.
What if you were given the chance to change the way you see the world, but you might never be able to go back to the ways things were?
I'm doing it anyway.
I went to the library for a summer novel but came out with Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions, by Susan R. Barry. It's about how a neurobiologist with a lifelong vision defect learned how to see stereoscopically by undergoing vision therapy. Previously, she could only see two-dimensionally.
For explanation: Two-dimensional vision, or 2-D, is flat, like a drawing on paper. 3-D means that there is also depth: an actual room with furniture in it, instead of a drawing of such a room.
It's a fascinating story. At the end of the book, the author listed little tests you could try online to check your own depth perception.
I failed every single one of them.
I discovered, to my horror, that the world did not look the way I saw it. There were layers I couldn't use.
I called my sister and said, "I have no depth perception!" And she said (like "duh") "Yeah, I know. That's why your paintings have that compressed space."
I said, "My paintings have compressed space?"
So I made some calls and started vision therapy. Now, a year later, I can see in 3-D. Most of the time. What's really cool is that I can pop it in and out by thinking about it. Although, the longer I go to therapy, the more I lose the ability to retreat to flatspace.
I used to walk around as though I had a flat screen TV in front of my face. Not a good one. Not HD. Certainly not 3-D. Everything I could see was on that flat screen. There was nothing beyond it.
Now I move in space, and it is a totally different experience. It's not just that the world looks different; it feels different, too. In fact, it's like a different planet. A friend, who is undergoing therapy as well, describes it as the difference between mono and stereo in music; there's stuff you just can't hear in mono.
I think it's more like the protagonist's experience in the movie "Avatar," who went from seeing the world from his wheelchair, to being in the world a completely mobile and free-moving person. Before you get offended about my use of a handicapped person in my metaphor, remember that I am legally blind in one eye as the result of a childhood accident. That's what caused my inability to see in three dimensions.
I knew that this course of therapy would probably change my art. Drawing is the act of transferring a three-dimensional subject to a two-dimensional image. I was able to do that with some ease, because I was already seeing in two dimensions anyway. So there was a danger I might lose some of that ease. Or all of it.
I thought that of course now my work would have depth (hopefully both kinds: depth, and depth, if you know what I mean).
Not so. My use of space in art hasn't changed a bit. Apparently I'm not all that interested in portraying space, though I love moving through it. I suppose I spent too many years without it.
What has changed is my use of color.