What is it like to have depth perception? Six things I didn't realize would be different in 3D.
Betsy Yaros was born prematurely and had surgery to correct Strabismus when she was very young. That surgery was followed up with another surgery, but her vision continued to worsen. In college she read "Fixing My Gaze" by Dr. Susan Barry and sought treatment through vision therapy. Betsy was introduced to Vivid Vision by Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford of Bright Eyes Family Vision Care in Tampa, FL. After working with Dr. Bonilla-Warford using Vivid Vision in his eye clinic, Betsy was able to gain 3D vision for the first time in her life.
As our guest blogger, Betsy offers six distinct examples of how seeing in 3D has changed her daily life. Thanks to patients like Betsy sharing their stories, and to new research in the field, we now know that people of all ages can do vision therapy and gain 3D stereovision.
Maybe you are thinking, “How is seeing 3D really different? When I close an eye, I still see the same.” Or maybe you have never really seen 3D and are wondering, “What am I missing?” Or maybe you are in between, have hit a vision therapy plateau, and are looking for motivation to continue on your quest for 3D vision. As someone who was diagnosed with alternating exotropia and did not have 3D vision until age 31 thanks to vision therapy, I thought I would share my experiences.
Grocery store shopping
This is a task that I usually do once a week. In 2D, I walked around the store and enjoyed looking at all of the colors and designs on the packages and calculating the prices to find the best value. In 3D, I am one step ahead. I can determine the best value more often by glancing at the product rather than reading the numbers. I can see the volume and the true weight of the package by just looking it.
Initially, when it came to produce, my heart raced a little, as I feared that these mountains of fruit were going to come tumbling down.
But once I regained my composure, I could see what is bruised or misshaped much more easily. I no longer have to rely on feeling all sides of the fruit or vegetable as much as my eyes are able to do more of the evaluating now.
Driving a car
Before I started vision therapy, I was trying to figure out how to get to and from work without a car. My vision was getting worse and worse and I did not feel safe driving. My eyes flipped back and forth so the road would shift and things would pop into my view as I traveled down the road. My eyes were also getting so strained during my commute that they would tear up and want to be closed, but I would force them to stay opened as I drove. By the time I got to work, I looked like I had been crying. Then when I started therapy, my eyes began to stabilize and stopped watering.
In 3D, I felt like I was an Indy race car driver and could navigate anywhere on the road.
When I see 3D, it is like I am in the traffic and can tell how the interstates are traversing the land below me. Before, in 2D, it was more like I knew other cars were outside my windows, because I obviously saw them, but they were flat shapes like a 2D cartoon enlarging and shrinking as they got closer and further away. Once, I actually caught myself crying in a traffic jam, not from the stress of sitting there and just wanting to get home after a long day of work, but from the beauty of being able to see that I was one with, and a part of, the traffic.
I have seen a few Better Homes and Garden magazine covers in my day and I thought my apartment was pretty reflective of that—photos hung with care, items neatly placed, and dust nonexistent.
The reality of my apartment hit me when I saw 3D for the first time after a vision therapy appointment.
I remember the shock as I opened my apartment door and found that not only my pillows but my photos were lumpy; layers of dust were on the counters, shelves, and some of my most treasured objects; and there was a general sense of dishevelment in the air. I thought, “How am I living like this and what do people think when they come over?” I quickly went to the store to purchase Endust and a steamer.
Again, in 2D things are flat and not protruding into space. For example, a pile of disorganized paper looks like a flat block of papers where the sheets all kind of blend together. In 3D, I am seeing out of both my eyes at the same time, so I am getting double the visual information coming in, so I have double the lights and darks, double the texture, and double the sense of what’s going on. You could equate this to high-dynamic-range (HDR) photographs. If you look at an HDR photo, you see immense detail in the lights and darks. This is because multiple exposures were taken and combined to create the photograph. The same thing is happening when I look out of both my eyes in my apartment. By combining both views, it is like I have a new lens of clarity and can see where I need to sweep, dust, and clean in general.
Networking and Socializing
I have read some books and articles about networking. Typically, they mention something along the lines of surveying the room before you enter. In 2D, I could never get this concept and thought, “How am I supposed to survey a room when I am more concerned about not walking into a wall, not missing my mouth as I try to drink something, and not bursting someone’s personal bubble?”
Every day, I was more concerned about my safety and what was happening right in front of me. I have opened the refrigerator door in my face and I have walked into poles. On more than one occasion, I have almost lost an eye due to projectiles because I did not see them since I was looking out of my other eye until it was too late. It was also very taxing on my eyes to try to focus in the distance, so I would not try to look across a room.
Early on, after I gained 3D vision, I met up with a friend for coffee. When I entered the coffee shop, that is when it clicked when they said “survey the scene.” As I stood at the entrance, I could take in the space from the pipes in the ceiling to the cement floor on the ground, from the menu on the left and artwork on the right to my friend sitting at a table in the middle. I could easily navigate around the other tables full of customers and go to him. As we sat, I enjoyed our coffee and conversation without worry and fear.
The other profound difference that I noticed over that cup of coffee is that I can better see emotion in 3D. My friend’s face was so much more animated. His cheeks rounded when he smiled and the valley and plains took shape in his forehead as he thought. It is electrifying to see others around me so alive and to be able to relax and enjoy their presence. This leads into my next topic.
I didn’t quite understand the intensity of breakups until I had one in 3D.
In 2D, when someone would break up with me, I would watch them say the information and would get the gist of what they are saying - it’s over, blah, blah, blah. My memories of these breakups are very flat and washed out in a way. My more recent breakup is still a very vivid, 3D capsule of time in my mind. Go back two years to the lobby of Chili’s. I could tell immediately something was off. I could see beads of sweat dripping down their face and a level of tension rising in their body. In 2D, I think I would have been oblivious to the events that were about to transpire. In 3D, this foreshadowing gave me a little time to prepare.
When we finally sat down and they told me it was over, I could focus and see the the words come off their lips. This sense of clarity gave me no other choice but to accept and process what was happening in the moment. This new ability to process what is happening to me in the moment is something new and exciting for me. I was remediated for an auditory processing disorder and speech impediment in my late teens and early 20s, so I have spent much of my life standing in the background, trying to avoid contact with others. My latest 3D visual ability is allowing me to be even more present and engaged in this world of ours and for that, I am so thankful. I think that in time, with all of these capabilities, I will be sharing a story of relationship success.
As I finish up writing this post, I am reminded of my appreciation for my ability to write and read. There was a time in my 2D life where I could not do either. I could no longer take notes in class nor could I read my textbooks or look at a computer screen for too long. My eyes were fighting so much that I was developing optical migraines when I looked at anything for too long. I changed my major to photography in undergrad because it was the only career where I thought I could be successful, since one eye is already closed to take a photograph.
After I started vision therapy, I began to have more control over my eyes and the migraines went away.
I would not say that there is anything particularly special about seeing text in 2D vs 3D, but what is special is that I was able to re-name one of the chairs in my apartment as my “reading chair.” I can now spend a Saturday morning enjoying a book that I have checked out of the library. Before, a book would have to be cut up and scanned. Or, I would have to ask the publisher for the PDF, in order for my text-to-speech software to read it me. The software dictated the tone of voice and pacing, but now I am in control of that as I read the story. If I want the leading lady to have a New York accent, I can.
Since I can read and write again with ease, I also have more directions I can go in with my career options. I am excited to be able to go back to school to become an optometrist who specializes in vision therapy. I am very thankful for the opportunity to do vision therapy, which included using your software, Vivid Vision. I want to help others experience the richness in life that 3D vision brings.
~ Betsy Yaros
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