Thins morning I got a a very moving email from a colleague. With his permission, I have posted it here.
I have not been in practice as long as Dr. Palmer has, but I do see amazing improvement in patients who particiapte in vision therapy. It is wonderful to see that these stories last a lifetime....
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
You never know how something you do today will affect someone in the future, so here's what happened to me today.
I joined my uncle's established Optometry practice 28 years ago. I was fresh out of the New England College of Optometry in Boston and embraced much of the Vision Therapy and functional vision foundation for vision taught by Mitch Scheiman, O.D. As the newbie in the office, I had a lot more free time than my uncle, so I took on some VT patients.
I remember one patient particularly well. She was a 9th grader who had been placed in special ed classes because of her poor school performance. Both of her patients came in with her explaining that they knew she was a bright girl, but had some problems. They had been to physicians, psychologists, and ophthalmologists to identify and solve her academic performance issues. No one was able to help her with her problems. I was their last hope.
She was not a good student and had been placed in a secretarial program. Her typing (remember typewriters?) was particularly bad. She told me that she couldn't keep her eyes on the material without losing her place. What was interesting was that she had terrific visual acuity and was not nearsighted or farsighted, and so every other examiner told her parents that she was fine. I went looking for the needle in the haystack and found that while no particular set of measurements was significantly out of expected ranges, everything was borderline. She was a Vision Therapy candidate... I thought... perhaps. It was worth a try.
I don't recall exactly what we did 28 years ago, but her parents did the exercises with her every night. She began to show improvement and was moved out of special ed. By graduation time, she was an honor student. I followed her for a few years after that. She said when ever she felt the strain coming back, she would go back to "our" exercises and the problem would disappear.
She stopped in today after about 15 years away. She's 41, has graduated from college, works with computers, and is married with a family. As we were reminiscing, she mentioned that during college, she had to write about someone who had the most impact on her life. She wrote about me! I was speechless (and I am the endless talker). It just took my breath away.
Nowadays she does wear reading glasses, but she is nothing like the special ed ninth grader whose parents worried so much about her future.
If you ever wonder what you are doing here on Earth, I got an answer today.
Jeff Palmer, OD