For as long as he can remember, Samson has had vision problems. When he was young, he was always tripping over things, misjudging distances. He was given glasses at an early age, but even with them, he had trouble seeing.
He gave up reading for pleasure, and instead turned to video games, playing repetitive games whose patterns he could remember so he didn’t have to track with his eyes so much.
But Samson is a smart guy with a wide range of interests and a determination to get ahead. Despite his reading problems, he graduated from a rigorous private school and got a BA from the University of Minnesota. He loves theatre and dance, history and politics. He is fluent in a second language, Spanish, and having visited Spain twice, his long-term goal is to move there.
But none of these accomplishments came easily. He says his vision issues were an “invisible problem” that bedeviled his teachers and friends – everyone knew he was smart, but couldn’t understand why he had trouble keeping up with his work. He has loving, concerned parents who did everything they could think of to help him, encouraging him, taking him to specialists, including regular eye doctor visits. Optometrists would prescribe glasses, but his problems persisted. As Samson discovered when he came to A Chance To Grow’s Vision Clinic, the problem was, they were focusing only on his eyes, not on the eye/brain connection that was at the root of his problem.
When Samson’s mother saw the evidence, she cried. It was the first time in Samson’s 31 years that anyone could show her what was wrong.
With the information generated by the program, Dr. May was able to diagnose Samson with Oculomotor Dysfunction and Accommodative Excess, meaning his eyes have difficulty tracking, and he overcompensates to correct. She also found that his glasses prescription is anisometric,
meaning he has a large difference in the prescription for each eye. Those issues have made it very difficult for his two eyes to develop in a way that worked together. It also profoundly affects his depth perception.
This explains so much of what Samson has experienced. When eyes can’t work together, sustained attention for near tasks, like reading, are straining and exhausting. Ultimately vision is uncomfortable and demotivating, affecting vision-driven tasks. That’s basically everything: reading, driving, learning, even walking around and knowing where you are in space depend on those skills.
Dr. May prescribed eye exercises, which Samson has been doing regularly at home, as well as sessions on equipment in the office. The plan is based on very careful goal setting that emphasizes mastery of individual skills. When each skill is mastered, Dr. May and Samson will carefully put them together, giving Samson control of his system as a whole. After that, it’s just continued practice and maintenance. “The whole process is Samson’s work,” says Dr. May, “I’m just facilitating and giving him the best tools I have for him to regain control.”
Samson reports that he never realized his eyes were jumping so much. Since beginning his vision therapy, he says he can see things much better. He is hoping one day soon, he will be able to drive, and become more independent. He says, “Tell people it’s important to ask questions and look at things differently, find someone who will look for deeper issues. It wasn’t about the eye itself, it was about the eye/brain connection.”