I don’t think that I will ever forget when Dr. Davis looked at me and stated frankly, “You have major eye problems.” I cried right then and there. It was an answer, yes, to a question that had been hanging over me since second grade. Unfortunately, it was in no way, shape, or form the answer I had wanted. It didn’t matter that over half the population of the United States have these problems. What is half a country at a time when one feels entirely alone? I was scared, furious, and truly devastated.

From the time I was small, I had odd little quirks. When I wasn’t knocking into things or falling down for no apparent reason, (I did this so often my parents nicknamed me Lump Head and gave me a theme song), I was making silly errors in school, which resembled Dyslexia. My most serious defect was in spelling. Even after years of rules and phonics, I would spell the same word three different ways in one paper. Reading was second in line on my list of grievances. I read slowly, stumbling often and misreading entire sentences. Math, though least defined, was just as exasperating. The number of errors my work contained was just as embarrassing as it was frustrating. Because these difficulties persisted, when I was 16 years old my parents called in the help of a tutor. The tutor realized that I did not need her expertise, so I was sent to Fredericksburg Learning Center for testing. These tests revealed that I did not have Dyslexia, but that the answer to my problems lay in an area of vision we had never heard of before, Developmental Optometry. It was then that Dr. Davis diagnosed me with Binocular Fusion Disorder, using these three terrible words, “major eye problems.”

Binocular Fusion Disorder can be described as visual overload. My eyes do not work together to send my brain correct, easily processed information. This causes my brain to simply shut off certain functions of my eyes. Periphery is one thing my brain annihilated, giving me tunnel vision. It also represses whichever of my eyes is acting up, and generally wreaks havoc on my ability to connect the sensory dots. I do not know if my brain does this out of desperation or revenge, but I am now working to train my eyes to get along and have my brain stay out of their business. Weekly therapy sessions with Dr. and Mrs. Davis and the support from my wonderful family, have helped me through this whole mess.

I had a lot of issues getting over the initial shock and denial, which accompanied my diagnosis. Then came a blatant loathe and resistance to the many therapy exercises including ‘Stick Near Far’, ‘The Star Chart’, and ‘The Duck and Pigeon’. Dr. and Mrs. Davis gave me these exercises and many other nifty contraptions, instructing me to flail about until I felt completely and utterly ridiculous, all to retrain my misbehaving eyes. One thing I continue to hold in contempt is my prism glasses. I am supposed to wear them for all close-up work because my eyes, even today, get fatigued and I end up two inches from the paper. Even so, eye therapy has helped more than I expected. The initial “And how on earth is this going to help?” has passed, and things are going much smoother.

Though my math still contains many careless mistakes (I am beginning to suspect I am just a poor mathematician and it has nothing to do with my eyes), my spelling has begun to improve. Reading is easier, and I am proud to announce that I have shed the nickname Lump Head! It has taken over a year, and I am not completely finished ridding my eyes of their nasty little habits. At times I wonder if I will ever be able to spell ‘another’ without adding an uninvited ‘u’, or if I will ever be able to read like Speedy Gonzales, but I know I will never let this be an excuse to give up. Perhaps I may encounter obstacles between myself and my dreams, but “major eye problems” are no longer among them.

Latest updated on Kelsey Conway 2/3/2016:

Kelsey is now employed at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and is training to become an archivist. Her youngest sister benefited from a less lengthy program with your office a few years ago. Also, our middle daughter at age 22 will begin therapy with you this week. I continue to recommend your services and people who seek care are always grateful beyond words.


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