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

Some are color blind. I am stereo blind.

Eyes Contact Redux (or what happened in the optometrist’s office, part 1)

with 2 comments

0724-2009relating

“The Colors of Relating” 19 x 24″ pastel on Canson paper by Lynda Rimke, 2009 Akron Society of Artists Open Model Night for Akron ArtWalk 

During my vision therapy hiatus, I would from time to time succeed at looking at both my eyes in the mirror in the way most people make eye contact, “the act of looking directly into one another’s eyes.” 1

My felt need for mirror-practice is because “Strabismus … interferes with normal eye contact: a person whose eyes are not aligned usually makes full eye contact with one eye only, while the orientation of the other eye deviates slightly or more.” 2 I wrote more about this in 2010 where I had recently discovered the difference:

“Most people make two-eyed contact, with right eyes gazing into left and left into right. Al enlighted me of this fact only last week. It’s really eyes contact.” 3

While mirror practice is really right to right eye and left to left, softening my gaze to see both eyes at the same time achieves the same purpose. Since starting back on the Brock String in late June, I have been practicing in the mirror more.

When I explained this to my optometrist on Tuesday, he wanted to see if I could pull it off. For a second or so I couldn’t get it, then I tilted my head just slightly to the right. Then it happened: my first full connection with another human being— Real. Full. Eye Contact.

“You tilted your head,” he noted, and then warmly related how sometimes his vision doubles and head tilting is a way to get binocular function back. While I am not happy that this is happening to him, I am comforted in that whatever research he will be doing for me may also be of benefit to him.

I also used the Brock String with him holding the other end. My nervousness and the angle of the string, and difficult overhead office lighting made for less than ideal conditions. I think I got the “magic X” through the yellow center bead only for a millisecond or two at 15” and was not able to converge and diverge between the closer green bead and yellow bead.

But I digress. The actual genuine eye contact was THE huge milestone with psychological and social significance. I fake genuine eye contact pretty well, as my misalignment is now so slight as to be practically imperceptible to others. But I am always missing the connection by half. To have made that full connection, even for clinical purposes, is huge.

I mentioned this at dinner, after taking in a 3D movie with my folks and husband on Saturday. Dad, who claims to have always had a “lazy eye” took immediate interest, and we attempted genuine eye contact. I was surprised when he told me he was alternating, and I (and my husband next to me) could see his eyes doing it! We’ve suspected that my condition runs through his family, but this was an “Aha!” moment to see his alternating esophoria (or tropia) in action. We laughed at our struggle and then lovingly made left “good” eye to left “good” eye contact.

My husband has become the next victim, as I will not let go of my goal to improve my newfound full-eye-contact skills, and he happens to be the most handy human being around. We normally do a lot of talking with occasional face contact. He too, grew up with an impairment to real eye contact: congenital cataracts and coke-bottle glasses. I’m sure this is what made him easy to be around at first, as this made him undemanding in the eye contact arena. I did not mind tunneling down through his glasses with my one good eye. While the pop-bottle lenses are long gone, gaining that full eye connection has been a challenge, because face contact has been nothing less than eye contact in his mind his whole life and all that I felt I could easily accomplish. But he is patiently putting up with me, and why not? Every enduring marriage needs a little magic!

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Written by Lynda Rimke

July 24, 2016 at 2:22 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Hi
    I have a 2.8 year old son who has alternating esotropia. Doctors recommended surgery but we are not very sure. There are no optometrists here in India.
    Could you please point some stuff we could do at home. Also do you know any optometrist who would be willing to consult over skype. We will pay ofcourse. Thanks..

    Tara

    September 15, 2016 at 12:54 am

  2. I just discovered you posted the same request on the Facebook “DIY Vision Therapy” group, and recieved lots of helpful feedback, including referreals to ODVTs in India! I am so happy that you have found an ODVT and that your son is starting VT early. I also started out with binasal occlusion and know it really helped me a lot (and I posted about it as well back in 2010-11). Best wishes for your son’s binocular vision!

    Lynda Rimke

    September 16, 2016 at 2:47 pm


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