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

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

More 3D, and a better prognosis

with 6 comments

I have a very good report, and there is no way to keep it short!

Yesterday’s appointment with the retina specialist gave me hope for the first time. The damaged retina is still getting enough blood supply, and so it may have a chance to heal. This is a far better prognosis than last week, when the resident ophthalmologist who saw me in ER and also two days later simply shook her head “no” with a long sad face, saying a 5 second delay in the artery to the fovea, as revealed by the angiogram, was not enough blood supply to prevent permanent damage.

fluorescent angiogram of BRAO

My fluorescent angiogram showing the artery to central vision filling in 7-10 seconds later, but still providing vital blood supply

Nothing much has changed in the size and shape of the brown shade pulled over this eye, but I now know that it will take about 3 months for the swelling to go down completely. I was also told there should be some improvement by my next appointment in 6 weeks.

Glory! So many folks have been praying and thinking of me. This great news is a tremendous blessing and I am grateful and truly humbled again by the all of the good thoughts and prayers for healing. They have not always been answered with “Yes” and so it has been hard for me to even believe in “Maybe.” But now I believe. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

This means I am still on the road to 3D vision! In fact, the built-in sun visor on my right eye may even help me toward that goal!

First, I am forced to use my weaker, left eye in order to see anything completely: to read, write and to drive. A part of vision therapy strategy is to even the eyes out in skill level, so that they can team. My left eye is making rapid gains!

Second, my brain is doing new stuff. I believe it’s in a state of greater plasticity, simply because I cannot use the main eye-gate to the brain I have been using all my remembered life.

My plasticity has grown through these alternative ways of seeing:

LEFT-EYE MODE WITH RIGHT EYE FULLY SUPPRESSED
This monocular method has the greatest acuity, and was all I had at the hospital. It was my alternating-esotropic brain’s first choice.

But when I got into wide-open sky space the evening I left the hospital, I felt tangibly blind. Whole sky was absent to my right. It was so unsettling I vowed to use both eyes somehow, ASAP!

RIGHT-EYE MODE WITH PATCHED LEFT EYE
I walked the hospital hall this way and managed to see enough feet and cart bottoms to not crash into anybody. With great effort, I managed to read the large letters on the bulletin boards by looking just above the letters.

I also patch when Patrick drives down the highway, just to give the left eye a breather and look for any improvements. So far, I still only see the lane to the left, with center and right lanes occluded. Whole trucks disappear along with all the sky. Did I say driving feels un-nerving?

RIGHT-EYE MODE WITH HALF SUPPRESSED LEFT EYE
Partial suppression is the new thing my brain has done on it’s own these last few days, thanks to my vow to use both eyes, and some consistent work.

I started by putting on the bi-nasal occluded glasses, which revealed the blind area again because partially occluding the left made the right eye image fire up in my brain.

The next day, I removed the right occlusion. Gradually, after a couple of days of wearing the glasses with center-left occlusion for a few hours to rest my dog-tired left eye, I could see the blind area without the glasses. Amazingly, the blind area began to fill with input from the left eye, leaving only a band of blurriness across my central vision, and not the total tan sun-visor image my right eye sees. At first, it was light fixtures in ceilings. Now it’s just about anything, however, there is a blurry band at the lower edge of my blindness that remains. It wrinkles my central vision like a layer of unstable cellophane.

When I tested myself with red green glasses on a white wall, the top half of my vision was green and the lower half was … red!

Sometimes, when I occlude the right eye, the left eye stays fixed, and sometimes it jumps. So, instead of true binocularity, this is more like patched-together left-over-right viewing.

However, my eyes ARE in alignment at times, because the patched in area vertically lines up with the area I can see under the cellophane band with the right eye.

I get around the house better in this new left-top, right-bottom mode. It has become the new default mode when I move about; my brain does it automatically.

STEREOPSIS IN MY LOWER VISUAL FIELD
At times least expected, I am starting to SEE things 3D. I’ve found I can’t look at a thing and make it 3D, but when I give up sometimes it just happens.

This morning I had just vowed I wasn’t going to try anymore today, after nearly driving myself crazy with looking for anything and everything 3D since getting up an hour before.

I picked up my bowl and resumed eating my granola and BLAM!— the rim of the bowl looked different. I could tell I had both my eyes rooted to it’s outer edges. The rim looked larger somehow, and was slightly misshapen in the upper right part of it’s curve, probably due to the edge of my blind area. I just kept gazing at it in wonder, and something else appeared within a blink: I could see the space inside the bowl, hollowed out and tangible, with my spoon resting against the bottom.

UP. DOWN. BOTTOM. These are such abstract concepts to me … not things to be SEEN other than depicted on a flat surface. But I am seeing these and other words that describe WHERE in three dimensional space with an explosion of never before understood meaning.

“I want you to think WHERE and not just WHAT” was one of the first things my vision therapist coached me to do, when she gave me my center-occluded glasses. As an esotrope, I clearly understood my need to let go of WHAT, but had no concept of WHERE.

Now it shimmers under my nose when I least expect it, and vanishes like a fairy. But when it happens, adjectives that describe WHERE become an epiphany.

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6 Responses

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  1. Go Lynda, go!
    You are amazing!Your optimistic attitude and spunk are serving you (and us!) well! A lot of good is coming from this experience. It sounds like what seemed like a setback is possibly just another route to the ultimate goal.

    All the best to you!

    Kari

    PS: I definitely want to collaborate with you on what this all means to us as artists but I’m not sure yet what that will look like!

    Kari Minnick

    April 6, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    • Thanks Kari,

      I love the idea of collaborating. I know two other strabismic artists in my area and have yet to propose a show, but it has been in the back of my mind! Like you, I don’t know what that will look like, but the seed is there. :-)

      My vision therapist is an anchor to my overblown sails, as it is hard to convince her that I am actually seeing 3D, or even that my left eye is filling in over my right. So let’s just say what I’m reporting may not stand up to the scientific method. But I KNOW what I’m seeing!

      Lynda Rimke

      April 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm

  2. Lynda,
    Great descriptions here! You are an inspiration to patients and doctors alike! Good luck on your continued journey.

    Dan

    April 7, 2011 at 10:11 am

  3. oh wow, Lynda..the bowl. THE BOWL!!! I am so excited for you and I eagerly await the day I see my own bowl they way you have described.

    Sally

    April 13, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    • It was exciting, and very different. And it snuck up on me. Now I’ve been trying too hard, so the fairies are staying away. I’m doing less looking and more Brocking.

      Maybe they’re coming your way! Soon, I hope :-)

      Lynda Rimke

      April 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm

  4. So glad things are imporoving for you!!

    Kathe Rowe

    April 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm


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