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

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

Arr— Avast with the “weird eye” Matey!

with 4 comments

Johnny Depp as buccanneer Jack Sparrow

Johnny Depp, starring actor in the latest 3D release of Pirates of the Carribbean, cannot see the special effects in the movie:

“.. Johnny Depp’s vision isn’t exactly shipshape, ‘I’m unable to see in 3-D. I can’t — my eyes don’t see in 3-D. I have a weird eye,’ Depp told Access Hollywood. ” [1]

“Weird eye” … “Lazy Eye”… How many adults have simply been conditioned to create our own miserable self-diagnosis due to gross lack of correct information and a wee touch of pride?

These terms belittle the problem and remove it from medical discussion. The correct term is “stereoblindness” due to any number of medical conditions that hinder binocular vision, like amblyopia and strabismus.

Depp explained further “It may come as a surprise to you, but I’ve never seen things normally—” (elicits a laugh) “— as normal people … because one of my eyes, you know, doesn’t see (waves left hand beside his face) very much.” View the interview here.

Depp’s “weird” eye is not deviating enough to reveal mis-aligned catchlights in any of his published photos. A catchlight falling on different parts of the iris of each eye is the most reliable visual indication of eye mis-alignment or strabismus.

My own photos, like Depp’s, do not reveal misalignment; and I did not think of myself as cross-eyed or strabismic until I was diagnosed in 2010. I was as reluctant as Depp to explain why. It was easier to keep it under the radar, even to myself.

My guess is Depp is either alternating and his misalignment is slight, like Keira Knightly, or his left eye has amblyopia. However, if he was patched like a pirate for amblyopia as a child, he didn’t mention it …

Thankfully, the 3D movies and other 3D media are exposing and increasing awareness of the many types of stereoblindness adults and children have experienced all their lives.

Hopefully Mr. Depp, who is known for his generosity, will be generous enough to himself one day to investigate exactly why his eye is “weird” and what he can do about it.

Perhaps he should start with purchasing the story of Sue Barry, who brilliantly describes her own 3D awakening in her fourties in her book, Fixing My Gaze. Sue was recently featured in Oliver Sack’s documentary, Imagine: The Man Who Forgot How to Read and Other Stories (3/4 starting at 11 min 30 sec), happily interacting with the very 3D in Depp’s film that he cannot see!

Then, he could visit an optometrist trained in developmental vision therapy for an eye exam to find out why his eye is “wierd..” Many adults are regaining vision in a “lazy” eye (amblyopia) through vision therapy, like my blogging friend “Strabbie”, who had measurable improvement after only 12 weeks:

So I’ve been chugging along with my vision therapy, and at my 12-week appointment, I had an eye evaluation by my optometrist. I am delighted to share that the subjective feeling I have, that my left eye is open and working, has been measured, and my left amblyopic eye which could see 20/30 corrected now sees 20/20 (+ or -) which means my left eye sees TWO LINES BETTER on the eye chart now! [2]

Kudos to Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford for posting here and on Facebook.

Pirate speak, courtesy of http://www.yarr.org.uk/talk/

To find out if this child is dressed for Halloween, or is patched for amblyopia, click here.

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Written by Lynda Rimke

May 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Aargh! If only Johnny were more articulate about his “weird”eye. Imagine what it would do for us to have a famous patch-wearing pirate as a poster child for vision therapy.

    Great post-
    Cheers,
    Kari

    Kari Minnick

    May 19, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    • Indeed, he is the perfect proponent for encouraging eye-patching, at the very least!

      Lynda Rimke

      May 20, 2011 at 7:09 am

  2. Hey there, glad to read this post about Johnny Depp. I was pleased to see how much attention his statement about not being able to see 3D has garnered. Hopefully this make even more people aware of the issue.

    Keep up the great work and thanks for the link!

    -Dr. Nate

    • Just found your comment, thanks. Sue Barry also posted on facebook the new documentary segment about her stereoposis, Imagine: The Man Who Forgot How to Read and Other Stories (3/4) . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dXIV6rLRNY opens at 11:30 with Sue’s happy 3D interaction with … the new 3D Pirates of the Caribbean! Is there irony here or what?

      Lynda Rimke

      July 19, 2011 at 11:42 am


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