Wide-eyed Wonder: an artist's musings on three-dimensional vision

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

The trouble with “trouble”

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… people are really not worthy of all that trouble.

This was said by an eye surgeon to his orthoptist (vision therapist) friend over 100 years ago, after the friend had demonstrated the techniques he used with his 8-year-old strabismic sister that had enabled her to see 3D. [1]

Had my parents understood what I was seeing at age two or eight, they would have taken “all that trouble” to align my eyes. They did just that for my teeth.

In 1967, Dad sought out a new state-of-the-art practice called orthodontics that did not involve pulling my adult teeth, which had erupted like pop corn, overlapping in places. He did this because he has lost some of his. In his day, there were no orthodontists. If your teeth were crowded, a dentist pulled a few to make room, and that was that.

My jaws were gradually widened instead. For several months when I was 8 and 9 years old, my mother would take a small wire key and turn a crank on a bridge-like device that was cemented to two upper molars on either side. The crank turned a gear to widen the bridge, like a torture rack. This strange bedtime ritual made my nose tickle. But it was worth it because over several months my palette widened, creating space for my overlapping teeth.

The "night brace"

For several years after that, I wore a night brace to continue to widen my upper and lower jaws. Rubber bands pulled my lower jaw forward, closing my 1/2″ overbite so that my lower lip no longer printed itself with my upper teeth. My digestion improved, and my numerous canker sores faded away. Indeed, wearing the ugly brace for 3 years and dealing with hooking up flying rubber bands was totally worth “all that trouble.”

I was in “the program” 11 years …

But alas, during that time, my parents could not know my eyes were crooked. There was no elementary school screening for stereo blindness in the 1960s (and sadly, there still isn’t.) Even the optometrists who prescribed my glasses from age 10 on did not report my alternating esotropia during occlusion to my parents. I wonder why?

I wonder why orthodontics, a costly and troublesome program to straighten teeth is widely accepted and embraced by parents and pediatricians, and orthoptics (vision therapy) remains unknown, even though the practices to straighten eyes have existed for over 100 years with life-changing benefits that far outweigh the benefits of straight teeth, in my opinion.

Thankfully, interest in orthoptics and vision therapy is growing: Sue Barry has published her success at gaining stable 3D vision in her book Fixing My Gaze. Many are seeking out vision therapy because of her story.

Bloggers are emerging to publicize their vision therapy journeys. Aside from myself, “Squinty Josh” documents his therapies in great detail, “Strabby” contrasts her past experiences with ophthalmology and new progress with vision therapy and “The Life and Times of Stella” eloquently relates how vision therapy is transforming the vision and life outlook of a young toddler. We have all enjoyed promotion by Dr. Leonard Press through the College of Optometrists in Vision Development via “The Vision Help Blog”

Interest is growing in stereo blindness due to new 3D viewing technology. Recently MacNews published an article on the stereo blind titled “3D TV — not everyone can see (literally) what the hype is about”

The 3D film is moving from movie theaters to home theaters, TVs and game consoles. Soon, home video will be filmed in 3D. No one will want to go back to 2D; how limiting would that be?

No one chooses limitation.

Society’s disdain for things 2D will only empower the stereo blind to better negotiate for their own opportunity to see 3D in real life.

Let the revolution of the stereo blind begin! WE ARE WORTH IT!

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Written by Lynda Rimke

March 22, 2011 at 9:57 pm

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