Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Seeing crooked....

Hate it when it's incredibly hot outside. Hate it even more when I don't realize that it's going to be very hot outside and accidentally wear dark-colored clothes which just help absorb the heat that my black car doesn't take from the sun. Fortunately, with Husband driving, I can either crank-up the air conditioning or hang my head out of the window. Celeste doesn't hang her head out the window like other dogs and prefers the air conditioning (and not having to see her "mommy" looking like an idiot).

Today I had to travel across the state again for my eyes. This time I was there for low-vision occupational therapy.

Yeah, I was like you. "How do you do visual occupational therapy?" was the first thing through my head when I heard about it. Actually, they have you try to read a lot of different items in many different sizes, try-out different types of light sources, determine how much functional vision you have, and make more suggestions on how to improve or adapt your current vision to what you need.

Unfortunately, there's not much they can do for me regarding my night blindness and decreased vision when driving. That's just something that I'm going to have to learn to live without even though I prefer being an independent person. Relying on someone to take me places just drives me crazy and I hate having to bum a ride from friends. I'm very thankful that Husband understands what's going on and isn't bothered by taking me places at night (well, not yet at least).

Fortunately with my desktop computer I have a large monitor and it makes it easier to see. When I'm on my laptop, I can increase the print size and make things easier to read. They showed me a special flourescent lamp that has a nice blue-tinted light that is very even and doesn't have a "hot spot" like an old incandescent bulb has. When we tried a regular desk lamp and one of the flourescent lamps, I was able to read much more and even smaller print with the flourescent one. It's not up to 20/20, but it's better. Now I've got to find some to put in the house so that I can enjoy reading my books like I used to. I can still apply for audiobooks through the state's library for the blind, but I hate having to listen to them and not being able to start and stop when I want like I can in a printed book. Some have suggested an E-Reader, but I prefer the feel and smell of a good old-fashioned book.

What surprised me the most today though was how the therapist helped me find a "sweet spot" in my vision. She noticed when I was having difficulty viewing certain items that I would shift it until I could read it more clearly or I would shift my eyes rapidly as if searching for something. I've always had issues with that. I would use my right eye for reading and seeing up close and my left eye for distance viewing. Anything in the middle is a toss-up. The therapist had me look at her face (focusing on the center of her nose) and describe what I could see. I knew she had hair, eyes, a nose, cheekbones, and a mouth. She asked me to describe what I saw and it was all there but blurry. She then pointed at different places along the sides of her face and asked me to focus there and tell her what I saw. There was one place where her eyes disappeared; another where everything was so blurry if I hadn't already seen her I wouldn't be able to tell where some features were.

And then, it happened. She pointed at a spot to the left of her eyes, causing my eyes to shift to the right. Suddenly, not only could I see her face but I could also see the color of her eyes and the darker ring around the outside of her irises which I'd never noticed before. We couldn't pinpoint whether it was my right eye, my left eye, or both working together that made the difference, but just shifting my vision about four inches to the right made things so much better.

She gave me a bunch of worksheets with practice lessons to help train me to look at things "crooked" so that I'm using the "sweet spot" of my vision. She also showed me with a light meter how much I need to be able to see more clearly and we tried different light sources again. The blueish flourescent lamp was the brightest and now I've got to find somewhere that sells them. I want floor models in the living room & bedroom and a desk version I can move about the house and take with me if I'm gone with work or on a trip.

I'll be going back for another session sometime in the near future. I have to look at Youngest Son's schedule for the summer since he wants to get a class out-of-the-way this summer so he won't have to take the class during the school year and free-up a period for something else he wants. But I can tell already that learning to look to the right to see something is a trick that's going to be really hard to teach this old dog to do. Wish me luck!

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