I've had diplopia, or double vision, all of my life. It's there whether I'm wearing glasses, contacts, or nothing at all. My childhood optometrist said it's because of the extreme difference in vision between my 2 eyes - that my brain can't converge the 2 images because one eye sees so much better than the other. I'm told surgery can't correct it since I don't have a crossed-eye. During my last couple of years of college, I started doing artwork that reflected the double vision. This blog is a brief summary of those 2 years.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tracing, Venting, and Remembering

Originally written in September 2007
I wrote out a few sentences (cropped them) and traced the double image. It was REALLY hard. I couldn't figure out which of the 2 markers I saw was suppose to be tracing the double part, and what I see out of my left eye is jumpy. It kept moving left and right, up and down. And then when I traced it, I saw 4 of each letter overlapping so now it's really a jumbled mess to me.
My mom says when I was 3 years old, I told her about a haze I saw around objects. When I was barely 5, I had my first visit to an opthalmologist. He had me cover one eye and tell him the image that was on a screen across the room. I did fine with my left eye covered. But I remember covering my right eye, and the doctor carried me across the room until I was nose to screen. Only then could I see the birthday cake image. He diagnosed me with amblyopia (lazy eye). It's a miracle that it was discovered early, or else today I would be completely blind out of my left eye and it would wander wherever it wanted to go. The doctor wanted to start patching right away. My glasses would not arrive for another week, so I went to kindergarten with a patch over my good eye and no glasses to help my see out of my bad eye. I was so scared that I made my mom stay in the school's office for the first few days. I was embarrassed too. A patch over my eye made me stick out like a sore thumb among my peers. I remember having to learn some things more quickly than my classmates in order for school to be easier. There was a number chart going across the room that counted the number of days we had been in school. Each day, another number was added. I couldn't see the numbers so I had to memorize them. (I'm actually thankful for this because now I have a great short-term memory when it comes to memorization exercises)
I also remember coming home from school after the first day I had worn the patch. I sat on the couch snuggled close to my mom and we both cried. I remember struggling emotionally many times after that, but my mom claims I never talked about it. She says that after that one day when I cried, I never complained about my vision again. By third grade, the eye doctor said nothing more could be done for me and I could quit patching. I had accepted that my eyes would not be perfect and I'd always see double. It was years later before I found out the doctor did not believe me when I said I saw double. Until I was 19, I was labeled as having "shadow vision." When I showed my doctor the thumb drawing, he finally believed me. But he still said nothing could be done for me.
I began researching vision therapy and found a therapist who wanted to take me on as a patient. She said a lot of "maybes, possiblies, and mights" but she seems excited for the challenge, as my eyes seperate the images more than most of her diplopia patients. She claims she's told many people about me already. But it's so much more than attempting to fix my double vision. There are so many emotions that I shoved under a rug when I was told nothing could be done for me. Now that there's a glimmer of hope, that rug seems to have disappeared. I feel like I'm 5 years old again. I'm working to find the same strength I found then, but this time I understand more. I know about the complications and obstacles I'll face if the therapy does not work. I know the problems I've already encountered, and I've tried to imagine many years ahead of me with the same problems. I haven't been able to just cry once and be done with it.

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