Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hope for an amblyope

We have a new intern in our office, a fourth year optometry student who, as I am fond of saying to the therapy patients, is just a minute away from becoming an eye doctor. As I was introducing her to the various activities that we use in therapy, she disclosed that she is not binocular. In other words, she does not see in three dimensions because her eyes do not team properly together. She is also an amblyope. One eye has an acuity that is at least two lines on the Snellen Eye Chart worse the other eye. This is probably why she is not binocular - she opted to pay attention to the information coming into her brain from just one eye - actually, she did not do this on purpose, it just happened and therefore she does not experience double vision. You need two eyes to point to the same place in space AT THE SAME time in order to experience three-D vision. Since we deal with binocular dysfunctions a lot in VT (vision therapy), she and I began to talk about what her goals were for this rotation. Binocularity has been an abstract concept for her, not ever having experienced it and she hopes to understand it better. As I showed her patient histories that demonstrated how we can stimulate the emergence of binocularity in patients with similar conditions as her own, she became more and more intrigued with the possibility that she, like "Stereo Sue" Barry, could actually achieve a different visual outcome. That was last Monday. I only work on Mondays and Saturdays so when I saw her today she greeted me with the news that she is beginning to be able to do very simple binocular tasks. Later this morning, she was wearing a patch over her better eye to make the amblyopic eye work. I love when people unexpectedly gain hope for what they thought was a forever condition to change. I'll keep you posted.

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