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Dr. Nate and Betsy Yaros discuss Vivid Vision on Bay News 9

Several weeks ago we mentioned that Dr. Randy Shuck from Bay News 9 interviewed Betsy Yaros and Dr. Nate about Vivid Vision, the Virtual Reality Vision Therapy.

You can watch the whole segment here:

Here are the topics that are covered in the interview

  • Betsy discussed the nature of her vision problems. She explains that she was born premature with cross-eyed and required surgeries. Over time her vision got worse. When the eyes don’t work together, people cannot see 3D.
  • Dr. Nate explained that in some cases, such as Betsy’s, eye surgery can actually over-correct the problem and make it worse.
  • VRVTBetsy described some of the experience she had due her vision problem: being unable to read due to headaches, walking into walls, problems with depth perception, challenges with driving.
  • Dr. Nate explains how Vivid Vision applies Virtual Reality experiences to the principles used in vision therapy. In everyday life, each eye sees the world slightly differently and the brain puts the two images together to provide depth perception. In Vision Therapy, we carefully control the image that each eye sees. This is even more precisely controlled by the Occulus Rift VR system.
  • Betsy describes how easy and fun it was to use Vivid Vision and her experience seeing 3D for the first time.
  • Dr. Nate describes that frequently children do not recognize that they do not see the world the way others do and therefore they don’t complain. For this reason, optometrists recommend eye and vision exams and six months of age, 3 years of age, and every year while in school. This will test the visual skills they need to be successful in school, including the how the eyes move, focus, and work together. These skills can be developed through vision therapy, which includes Vivid Vision.
  • The age of patients that can use Vivid Vision is 6 to adulthood. In some cases, Vivid Vision can shorten the total length of treatment. It certainly makes it more fun.

You can see Betsy’s artwork and read her blog at her website: http://betsyyaros.com/

You can read more about Vivid Vision Virtual Reality Vision Therapy. If you have questions about whether or not Vivid Vision or Vision Therapy in general is an option for you or your child, call us at 813-792-9637, or use the comment section below.

-Dr. Nate

Bright Eyes will Be on Bay News 9!

We are in a very exciting time right now, here at Bright Eyes!

In addition to these events that make us so very proud, the most exciting thing for us right now is our Bay News 9 interview about the incredible results from our newest vision therapy equipment, Vivid Vision. Betsy, a patient that I have written about here, and I went to the Bay News 9 central studio to be interviewed about vision therapy, 3D vision, and the virtual reality therapy program Vivid Vision. The interview was with Dr. Randy Schuck and it was about 10 minutes long.

Here is a picture of us after the interview with Dr. Schuck:

IMG_0497

 

It was fun and exciting to see the news studio behind the scenes and help spread awareness about helpful options for people of all ages who cannot see, or do not have very good 3-D vision.

The news segment will air either next Friday or the Friday after that. We’ll let you know! 🙂

-Dr. Nate

Interview with James Blaha, Co-Founder of Vivid Vision

Vivid Vision Logo - With CircleTo continue our series on Virtual Reality. I was lucky enough to interview James Blaha, co-founder of Vivid Vision. I have known James for couple of years and have been fascinated by both his story and the product of his efforts. I am excited to share his thoughts with you.

 

 

Dr. Nate: Can you tell me about your original visual problem and the treatment options you were given?

James: I was diagnosed with amblyopia and strabismus before I could speak using the fly stereo test. I would rub my hand flat on the paper instead of trying to grab the fly. My parents had me patch, but I would constantly take it off and peek out of the side when they weren’t paying attention. I did vision therapy exercises at home and sometimes in a clinic. When I was 9 years old they told me that I was too old for my weak eye to improve, and we should give up with the patching and exercises.

Unfortunately, many patients hear that. What aspects of your treatment did you want to improve with Vivid Vision treatment treatment?

I want to make it fun for younger kids. I absolutely hated patching and VT exercises growing up, and I think that contributed to the treatment not working for me. We also want to demonstrate that you can improve vision in adults with our system as well and push the state of the art forward for adult binocular vision treatments. There are a huge number of untreated adults with amblyopia and strabismus and we want to get the message out that there is something they can do to improve their vision.

Did you have grand vision of changing the way doctors practice or did it just evolve over time?

It evolved over time. At first I was just planning on making something to explore how my own vision works. When it worked better than I expected, that vision expanded to making a game anyone could play at home. Once I dove deeper into binocular vision and spoke to several optometrists, ophthalmologists, and vision scientists it became apparent that it is a deeply complex issue where everyone has a unique situation. This lead us to want to develop tools for optometrists to use rather than release something that didn’t involve eye doctors at all.

How does it feel to read and hear breakthrough stories of Vivid Vision patients like Betsy who describes her new 3D vision as a “superpower”?

It feels amazing. One of the things I’ve learned from speaking with hundreds of people with amblyopia and strabismus is that even though I had a tough time growing up with it, most people had a much more difficult time than I did. The reason we are building Vivid Vision is to improve people’s lives, to increase the reliability and efficiency of treatment, and to reduce the cost of treatment so that all of the millions of adults and children with lazy eye can get access to it. For many that means being able to pursue careers and hobbies that were previously out of their reach.

I expected Vivid Vision to be a great tool for treating amblyopia. I am surprised at how effective it appears to be for strabismus. What is it about Vivid Vision that you think makes it such an effective treatment option?

I think there are three major factors that contribute to the effectiveness of Vivid Vision over previous treatments. The first is that we have an awesome team of optometrists, ophthalmologists, and vision scientists advising us and providing input on the system. Our Chief Optometrist Tuan Tran worked directly with patients and vision therapists treating binocular vision issues, our Science Adviser Ben Backus runs a vision science lab at SUNY studying binocular vision, and Dr. Paul Harris at SCO has given us advice and feedback since nearly the very beginning of the company.

The second factor is our use of virtual reality hardware. Because the system is enclosed, it means that the viewing conditions are always exactly the same. With other 3D technologies external lightning makes it difficult to be sure you are delivering exactly the right visual stimulus. Another big issue is inter-ocular contrast, and VR headsets provide a higher inter-ocular contrast than other methods of delivering unique images to each eye. Lastly, we think that providing training environments that are more like real life will make it more likely that the visual skills patients are learning will transfer outside of the training environment and into the real world.

The third factor is that the games and activities are more fun and more realistic than previous treatments. Although the locations and games may be more exciting and different than the real world, we believe that the exercises should contain visual activities that closely resemble people’s real life. Instead of choosing between relatively artificial targets on a screen, they could be choosing which basketball to catch at a park, for example. We want people to be practicing how to use their vision in ways they can directly apply to their life.

What has been the general feedback from doctors? Does this new technology make them uncomfortable?

Optometrists have been really positive about the technology. I think that most eye doctors realize that vision therapy could use more tools and that there is no reason these activities can’t be engaging and fun. Some doctors have been hesitant to bring in VR technology, but I think that is normal for any new tech to have a warming up period where people get familiar with it.

Is there anything else you want to add?

We want to empower doctors to treat more patients more efficiently by building them a set of tools to measure, track, and treat binocular vision issues. We want to educate patients so that they know there is a treatment option for them and connect them to doctors. We think this is the only way the millions of untreated adults can get treatment for their binocular vision issues.

Thank you, James, for sharing your story.

Bright Eyes is proud to offer Vivid Vision to our patients who will benefit from it. For readers who are interested in Vivid Vision, read more here or call us at 813-792-0637.

See Well!

-Dr. Nate

Helping Adults See in 3D With Vision Therapy

It is such an exciting time to provide vision therapy! There are so many advancements in treatment and knowledge in this area of Optometry. Although Vision Therapy is often thought of as an essential treatment for children with vision problems, adults can benefit from it too. A case in point is my patient, Betsy. She is a talented artist. You can see her work and blog here.

Betsy had eye surgeries as a child for crossed eyes. Despite these procedures, she still did not have the ability to keep her eyes aligned or see in 3D. For that, she needed vision therapy. She started therapy in a different state and when she moved to sunny Tampa Bay, she continued therapy with us.

Through vision therapy, Betsy has learned to move and focus her eyes at the same time without suppressing (turning one eye off). She has developed the ability converge her eyes to make them straight.

The most amazing detail about Betsy’s cases was that she acquired depth perception. Or, as the headline of the recent online interview she granted says:

“30 Year Old Describes the Experience of Seeing in 3D for the First Time.”

How did she achieve this?

First, Betsy was totally motivated to improve her vision and learn how to use her eyes together. When I first met her, she described how determined she was to improve her vision, which makes this long-term goal of hers all the more easy to achieve.

Secondly, she worked hard. As she said in the interview, she has done Brock String (a particular Vision Therapy activity) for over a hundred hours! That’s like staring at your nose for 100 hours; can you do that? Wow! All of this hard work and determination has prepared her brain and eyes to appreciate 3D vision.

Finally, Betsy is not afraid to try new things. She has had a number of different glasses, a huge variety of vision therapy activities, and most recently, the Vivid Vision Virtual Reality Vision Therapy System.

As Betsy said in an email to me recently, “This is amazing! I’m seeing 3D all over the place.” This is the most rewarding kind of note an optometrist like me can get from a patient.

And Betsy isn’t the only adult patient in our vision therapy program. Other recent adult patients include one who had double vision from a bicycling accident, one who had tremendous fatigue and double vision at work, another who had amblyopia and was told that she would never see well out of her left eye. All of these adults and others have experienced tremendous benefits from vision therapy.

To sum up: Vision Therapy is not just for kids; adults can benefit from it too. If you are an adult and have questions about your vision, see an optometrist who specializes in binocular vision. There may be options for you! You can start by going to COVD.org and OEPF.org to look for doctors.

Be well!

-Dr. Nate

 

Johnny Depp Can’t See 3D Movies – Maybe He Should See an Optometrist

It’s true! According to several recent entertainment stories such as this one from Engadget, Johnny Depp is unable to see the 3-D effects in the very movies that he stars in. Specifically the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which is to be released May 20th.

They way Depp described it, “I’m unable to see in 3D. My eyes don’t see in 3D. I have a weird eye… It just doesn’t work.”

While all this may seem like a small bit of movie trivia to many people, this may remind a lot of folks of themselves… or their children. We don’t know exactly what is weird about his “eye”, whether it is amblyopia (often called “lazy eye”) or some other condition. But we do know that many of the types of problems can be detected at a very early age. It is recommended that babies have their first eye exam at six months old. Treatment such as glasses or contacts or medical procedures to prevent further problems may allow the patient to have as normal vision as possible…. even normal 3-D vision. Also, vision therapy may be an option to give 3-D vision to patients, young or old. The book “Fixing My Gaze” by Dr. Susan Barry is an excellent example of this.

The recent news about Johnny Depp is just one more reminder that if you or anyone you know has trouble with 3-D movies you should see an optometrist.

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
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Stereo Blind…when you can’t see Avatar in 3-D means more than missing out on a good movie

Note: This is our first guest post. It was written by Dr. Dan L. Fortenbacher, an optometrist who practices in Michigan. Not only is he an outstanding vision therapist and optometric leader, he is a visionary when it comes to social media. Enjoy! – Dr. B.

The ability to see in stereo. What does that mean? Basically, stereo-vision is the ability to see depth in our visual space. That is, the ability to tell that space exists between objects in the environment. In essence stereo vision is your 3-D vision. It is the ability to judge depth because you actually see depth. This is accomplished through normal binocular (two-eyed) vision.

Most of us relate to this as we see 3-D pictures or 3-D movies. However, it is much more than that…stereopsis provides a quality of vision that is much like color vision. To those who are color blind, the ability to “see” exists, but the color deficient individual lacks a quality of vision that can only be described as a phenomenon of see the world with a quality of color perception. The world of color can not be easily put into words. The same is true with stereo vision. Until you see it you don’t know what you are missing. But, to be sure the stereo-blind are missing a lot! Continue reading

Interview with VT Blogger Heather Fitzpatrick

Not too long ago, I posted a link to a new blog that I had found called
ONE EYED GIRL – My Life With Strabismus. It is written by Heather Fitzpatrick who has had strabismus her entire life. She is now writing about her experiences and progress with vision therapy.

Recently, I had a chance to ask Heather some questions about her vision therapy:

Dr. B: You’ve written that you first found out about vision therapy from reading about Stereo Sue’s story. Before finding out about Stereo Sue, how much did you want to address your vision problem?

Heather: I never knew that my vision was different, as I never knew any other way of seeing, so changing my vision never crossed my mind. It was the way my eyes looked that I wanted to change. The doctors told my parents that I would have no “depth perception”. I never knew what that was anyway, so I never guessed that I needed to change my vision or that I even could.

Dr. B: Do you ever recall vision therapy being brought up as an alternative or an adjunct to your eye surgeries as a child?

Heather: Never discussed. It was always, ‘Heather is such a severe case, and surgery is the only option…’ I also saw a prominent optometrist/vision specialist in New York City after reading Oliver Sacks’ article, Stereo Sue, and after many tests he said that Vision Therapy would not do anything for me. It wasn’t until I met Dr. Carl Gruning, (who was referred to me by Dr. Sue Barry), at Eye Care Associates in Fairfield, CT, that I had any idea that this might be an option for me. He agreed that I was a severe case of vertical strabismus, and that corrective surgery would probably be the action to take, but he also thought that some vision therapy might help. Well, he was right! After some months of work, things began to look different. One day the therapist put me in these one-inch thick prism glasses and suddenly the room POPPED! The walls loomed way up, the people in the room were on all these different planes of space, and objects on a table were all in their own areas. It was absolutely mind blowing! I wanted to touch everything. I felt like I had landed on a different planet and there was all this space between things.

I believe I was 80-90 PD and now I am 30-40 PD. So over time I have corrected my vertical misalignment significantly. Eventually, I got a pair of prism glasses that I could wear on walks without scaring the neighbors. They have decal prisms, and while the acuity is pretty low (there are about 20 lines going across each of the lenses), I can still see a lot of depth with them.

Dr. B: You mentioned in your blog that you compensated for your eye turn by always taking photos with a head turn. What other ways did you compensate?

Heather: I eventually learned that things seemed closer than they really were, so I would compensate by telling myself I probably had more room than I thought I had. I competed in triathlons. During cycling workouts, I am always the one too far away from the cyclist ahead of me in the pace line. Other cyclists say, “Close the gap Heather!” But not seeing the space, the person’s wheel in front of me looked much closer than it really was. In swimming workouts, I had to learn that when doing a flip turn at the end of the pool, to look at the black line at the bottom of the pool rather than trying to judge where the wall was.

When I drive a car, I gauge where I am when stopping at a light by looking at the white line on the road ahead, otherwise I end up underneath the stoplight!

Apart from these minor things, I have not had depth perception my whole life, so I think I learned how to navigate from years of never having had it, if that makes sense.

Dr. B: Do you find it difficult to stay motivated for vision therapy?

Heather: No, I truly enjoy every moment of it. Sometimes I get frustrated because I want to see results more quickly, but I have come to realize that patience is key.

Dr. B: What is the hardest thing about vision therapy for you?

Heather: A few months after I began to see in stereo, it dawned on me that I had gone my entire life seeing the world differently. This brought some low moments thinking about all the years I didn’t have this type of vision. I had no idea I saw the world as one big flat movie screen!

I began to realize that much of the trouble I had as a child in school was not because I wasn’t paying attention, (well maybe some of that!) but because I could not track things as well as the other children. My eyes were not able to keep a lot of things on a page in order, so I would become overwhelmed. It was hard to keep my visual world organized, so I preferred to talk rather than focus! I have come to get more clarity on my childhood schooling. I wasn’t stupid. I just couldn’t see like other children! Unfortunately, no one recognized this, and I was put in LD classes that did not address my visual problems.

Dr. B: I’m glad you shared that, because that is one of the most common things I hear from parents. Things like, “He is just lazy, ” or “He just doesn’t try very hard.” It is sad to hear, but the silver lining is that if their child were succeeding while dealing with his visual problems, he can achieve anything after therapy!

Heather: Oh, yea, I have heard those things, too. Not from my parents, but from teachers that just did not understand how someone’s vision could be making him or her bounce off the walls (sugar probably also helped!!) or become overly frustrated when trying to learn something new.

Dr. B: You blog a lot of what happens with your vision at home. Like most of my patients, I’m sure that your job is visually demanding. Have you noticed any if anything is better, worse, or just different at work since starting vision therapy?

Heather: In the beginning, I was very tired. Early on I had to take naps! I run a business as a recruiter (www.traberfitz.com) and part of my job requires that I work on a computer for hours at a time. Early on in VT, it became exhausting to look at the computer for longer than 3-4 hours a day, but that has improved and I have learned to take eye breaks.

Also, my eye that is normally looking down has been activated through the therapy, so now when I walk or ride my bike, I see straight ahead with one eye and the ground rushing past me with the other eye, which is a bit disconcerting. Usually, I can turn it on and off. Also, I have started to see double in some exercises in VT. I can’t seem to fuse small objects yet.

Dr. B: Have you blogged about other things before?

Heather: No. The experience of seeing a whole new way at the age of 42 moved me to write about it. I thought there must be others and I could create a network of people who may get help from my story. A few people have contacted me, and their support has been so amazing and they have been inspired to seek out VT for themselves. One person contacted me that she was told that her infant daughter would never see in stereo due to an in vitro stroke. She was devastated and worried that her daughter would be missing out on a lot in life. I told her that my life has been just fine and that never knowing what depth perception was, I never missed anything!
Dr. B: Any thing else you’d like to share?

Heather: I would just like to say that this is amazing work and has changed my life in a meaningful way. I know this may sound strange, but it has changed more than my vision. Sometimes I think that my brain has wanted to see this way for a long time and giving it that chance was almost like an awakening of sorts. It lets light into a dark part of my brain. My visual life is not dead anymore. When I wear my prism glasses, it opens up to this whole new place that seems more alive. Space is this incredible thing and so entirely magical that it is hard to describe to someone who has always seen it. Overall, I have become a more contemplative person. I took up oil painting and enjoy looking at things more…especially nature.

Dr. B: Thanks so much for sharing your time and story, Heather. I wish you all the best and much progress in vision therapy!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

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Get ready for Super Bowl 3D Ads

On Super Bowl Sunday you will miss the special effects in the “Monstrous 3D” commercial if you don’t have 3D vision. The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) has a special message for those who won’t be able to see the full depth of the special three dimensional (3D) images that will premiere in the highly promoted “Monstrous” 3D Super Bowl commercials.

Thanks to DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., PepsiCo’s SoBe Lifewater, Intel Corporation and NBC, a first-of-its kind, nationwide ‘Monstrous’ 3D event for Super Bowl XLIII will be among the most highly anticipated Super Bowl commercials. But many viewers may be disappointed when they don’t see the dazzling 3D effects.

You can read the entire press-release here.

Be Well!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

Dr Nate Google PlusBright Eyes Tampa on Google PlacesBright Eyes Tampa on FacebookBright Eyes Tampa on TwitterBright Eyes Tampa on YelpBright Eyes Tampa on foursquareWestchase Patch