Young Adult Learns to See in 3D

“In 2014 I had a 21-year-old female come to see me for an eye exam. She had esotropia as an infant and she had undergone multiple strabismus surgeries where here eye muscles were altered to try to straighten out her eyes. As a result, she was able to alternate her vision between one eye or the other, so each eye was correctable to 20/20, but she was not able to fuse the vision from each eye together to see the world in 3D. Initially she had a low symptoms checklist score, so I told her that vision therapy would likely not be worth the time investment. She, however, thought about it for a few months and decided that she really wanted to try learning to fuse the vision in each eye so that she could see in 3D. I recommended that she read the book, “Fixing My Gaze,” by Sue Barry, since that tells the story of “Stereo Sue,” an adult with a similar history of alternating esotropia that eventually learned to see in 3D. She began reading the book, and I began vision therapy with her. 

I do not have a fancy vision therapy clinic, and I practice rural optometry–I do my best to serve anyone that walks through my door. I was able to teach her activities to do at home and her progress began. I did a therapy session about every 3 weeks and she worked diligently at home to make significant gains between visits. She first began seeing double, which was a bit of a shock to her–but I assured her that this was a part of the process–she then had to learn how to move the two images she saw closer together until they overlapped and created a 3D image. She enthusiastically accepted this challenge and her journey towards fusion and 3D vision began.

The journey to fusion and 3D vision took 26 vision therapy sessions with me, plus a few sessions with Dr. Jen Simonson, who has a “Vision-Therapy-only” practice in Boulder, CO. It spanned almost 2.5 years.  The journey to fusion culminated when she watched some 3D movies at Disney World on her honeymoon and she was able to see them in 3D and she was blown away! I was so happy for her. Even though she had my guidance, she did most of the work herself. I still credit her success to her desire to improve her vision. She was very passionate about it and would not give up. To this day, when I see her for her annual eye exams, her eyes look straight–even when I test her with the “cover test.” This is a truly remarkable story, and one that has touched me personally–one that I will never forget.”

-Jordan Ballantyne O.D.

Eye fact

Infants should have their first
comprehensive eye exam at 6-12 months of age, then at age 3 & 5 and after every year.

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