Vision, that is. I realize it more and more every day with my own eyes and the patients that come in seeking help for their eyes. Oh sure, it can be simplified and over-simplified. Many people, including eye doctors do it all the time. “My vision is perfect…I can see 20/15!” Well that’s great if you’re going to be a professional eye chart reader, but I’ve never seen that listed as one of the more high demand jobs on Monster.com. And on days like today when I have a couple of gaps in the schedule, I get the chance to really reflect on this and come up with a new blog entry.
After doing this for 10 years, I feel like I’ve become quite an expert in fitting contact lenses for all sorts of needs, treating medical eye problems that do not require surgery, and helping patients see well with their eye glasses. But I wonder sometimes if I can call myself an expert in understanding vision? Especially after 10 years. I guess it depends on how one defines expert. Dictionary.com defines expert as “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; a specialist; an authority.” Actually after reading this definition, I guess I can call myself an expert on vision because this definition isn’t really all that impressive.
So why am I being so hard on myself? Here’s an example of why: I had a really sweet little 10 year old girl yesterday who was having all sorts of underachievement issues academically. She had undergone extensive testing at school and problems were ruled out and suspected problems were suggested, including vision-related deficiencies. She had become labelled and it was deemed that she qualified for special education considerations. She had some symptoms related to vision, so that’s what I needed to look closely for. But after a half hour of testing, I couldn’t put my finger on any specific problems related to her ability to focus near or far or any problems related to the ability of her eyes to work together. I explained this to her mother, who thanked me for my time and they left somewhat relieved that I didn’t find a major problem. But I still suspected there was a problem related to vision, I was just disappointed that I couldn’t find it.
So I couldn’t find a vision problem, what’s the big deal??? I should be content with that. Well, honestly I think I couldn’t find it because of my lack of complete understanding of the “complications” of vision. What part of the visual processing was fouled up in this little girl? Why did she reverse her letters? Well, because she might have dyslexia…Well, why does she have dyslexia?!?!? Open can of worms now..
So in a continued effort to become more of an expert on vision and its complications, I decided several months ago to do something I swore I’d never do. Study and go through a very lengthy testing process to earn a Fellowship in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, a group of eye doctors and therapists specializing in vision care services that can develop and enhance visual abilities and correct many vision problems in infants, children, and adults. The trouble with this plan is, I’m not much of a reader (and never have been) because of my own recently discovered vision complications.
Here’s why I swore I’d never do this: I got through grade school and 10 years of college because I had at least a half a brain, but it wasn’t until I made it through school and started working with the public that I really started to flourish in this career. Reflecting back, you probably know someone just like me… One of the smartest kids in the class through the fifth grade, the best speller in ALL of Schallert Elementary. But on to middle school…and book reports and other longer reading assignments dropped me down a few notches. Their was less memorization and more reading comprehension and math word problems. Like many before me and after, I adapted, and was still looked at as one of the smartest in the class. But it was almost as if I felt like I wasn’t as smart as I used to be, because it was getting harder to remember and comprehend all the additional stuff. Before I became an eye doctor, I figured it was due to distractions like girls and sports. We didn’t text or surf the internet in the 70s or 80s, so for me there didn’t seem to be any other excuses.
Fast forward to only two years ago and I discover that my eyes don’t aim together well without a decent amount of effort…they’d rather rest pointing away from each other horizontally and one higher than the other. So I think back and wonder if that’s why my perception of the difficulty of school changed. Is that why I never hit much better than .200 in baseball? I didn’t make up the phrase you can’t hit what you can’t see. Is that why my high school coach moved me to first base so that I would stop over running fly balls in center field. Is that why I had to work so hard to catch a football while on the run (or standing still for that matter)? Think about it…our eyes tell us where every thing is positioned in the world around us. If my eyes told my brain to tell my arms that the ball was an inch away from where I thought it was…swoosh…swing and a miss or football on the ground. And those of you without these issues, have no concept. But I hope, especially that it makes sense if you have or once had “perfect vision.”
I may continue on with this topic tomorrow. The gaps in my schedule filled in after I started this, plus this post is getting too long anyway. I could go on and on and on…
Did I make it complicated enough for ya yet?