I am a 30-year-old Registered Nurse in Yakima, WA whose vision was gradually healed through an eight-month course in optometric vision therapy.
Before vision therapy, I only had a general idea of how far away objects were. I took several seconds to switch my focus between distances, I could only interpret a small area and one exact depth visually at a time, and I routinely saw double in many situations, especially at the beginning and end of the day. The texture of human skin and tree bark looked the same to me unless they were within arm’s length. Also, I received visual information slowly (I didn’t see a ball in the air until a couple seconds after I had tried to catch it based on the posture of the person tossing it to me), and the room routinely looked like it was moving when I turned my head. Sometimes things would abruptly change their appearance, because my mind had guessed incorrectly how they were going to look and made a “picture” based on that guess. The physical world had seemed like a frightening, confusing, and unpredictably dangerous place to me for as long as I can remember. I had often retreated into daydreaming, books, music, abstract reasoning, and philosophic musing instead of dealing with practical matters. Like almost-blind people, I had very little direct emotional connection to visual stimuli, other than alertness and fear if objects looked like they could hit me. I had to always be very alert when I was driving, walking, or moving physically, and if I focused my attention on moving carefully, I didn’t have the energy to also understand what I heard or problem-solve at the same time. With the exception of the double vision, I never really knew that how I perceived the world was abnormal at all.
I had a lot of close calls (and whiplash) while driving, I got lost almost every time I drove somewhere other than church or work, I ran into people and walls a lot while walking, and I hit my head frequently and eventually started to have problems with memory and problem-solving. I hated (and in adulthood, simply avoided) sports, I got really nervous or tearful sometimes without understanding why, and I had even started to avoid reading, which I used to love. I made many errors at work and had to stay much later than others to finish my work. I began to worry what my coworkers must think of this nurse who was always dropping things and running into walls and people. I had been dismissed from my first three nursing jobs without feeling like I was able to do what people expected of me. I was shy and anxious in routine social situations, and my inability to focus on moving faces well enough hindered my attempts at making sense of non-literal communication. I would often get angry or anxious when people didn’t answer my questions the way I expected, or when I didn’t immediately understand what they were saying to me. My friends told me I came across as self-absorbed, a black-and-white thinker, and too focused on one question or idea at a time without taking the context into consideration. All of this had become increasingly unacceptable as I grew older and wanted to succeed professionally and connect socially.
Since my way of viewing and interacting with the world was so ingrained and habitual, I was skeptical about whether vision therapy could help me physically, let alone emotionally and holistically. I was surprised.
Now that I have finished vision therapy, I can directly see the depth of multiple objects simultaneously, I can visually understand the entire room at once without things looking like they are shifting around, and I can change my focus much quicker. I can even process visual information much more quickly. I generally don’t see double unless I let myself relax visually, and I can see things even when they come quite close to my face. Driving is so much easier, even enjoyable sometimes, and I get lost much less often. I don’t hit my head or run into people or walls as often. I make fewer mistakes at work, get my work done more quickly, problem-solve as I work, and feel like I know how to succeed in both of my jobs. I survived a recent large round of lay-offs at the nursing home where I work and received superior marks on my progress evaluation. I feel more relaxed and connected socially, and I don’t put off difficult conversations until the last possible minute any more. I feel like I am able to learn quickly and effectively again, and control my emotions and thoughts better.
For the first time in my life, I really care about what I see, and am able to use my visual abilities to “create” beauty anywhere and help myself relax emotionally. The world now seems more predictable and much more safe and friendly. Because I can see texture from a distance now, people don’t look the same as hard objects, and that helps remind me to not treat them like objects. I can see changes in their faces more quickly, so I understand more in conversations. I don’t have to worry so much about protecting myself from physical danger, so I have more energy to focus on growing socially. I think I’m gradually learning to be less self-absorbed and absolute, and more appreciative of context in the social and ideological realms as well.
Vision Therapy is hard work, physically and emotionally, especially for adults who, like me, have probably had problematic vision since infancy. But it quickly becomes very rewarding. The experience of viewing the world with your eyes in exactly the correct position is intrinsically beautiful and calming. As soon as you see it for a couple seconds, something deep inside you says, “This is how humans were created to see. This must be a little like Paradise.” Briefly looking at the world more correctly can become a way to calm yourself down naturally when you are anxious in any situation. I was able to calm myself more reliably than I ever had before after the first two months of vision therapy.
I am grateful to God for healing my vision through the hard work of Dr. Copeland, and through the prayers of Father Joseph, Abbess Efpraxia, Saint Paraskevi, Saint George, and the Theotokos.
I found Dr. Copeland to be exceptionally patient, understanding, respectful, and professional throughout the course of therapy. I would wholeheartedly recommend treatment at Washington Vision Therapy Center for any child or adult who finds visual information to be frequently confusing, distracting, frustrating, anxiety-producing, surprising, or unreliable.