"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom" Albert Einstein

"A dame who knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up." Mae West

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The joys of being an amblyope

In my latest meme I mentioned that I was an amblyope and many readers seem fascinated by the fact.  According to wikipedia, only 1-5% of the population has it.  I guess that makes me special.  Amblyopia has nothing to do with Opie Taylor walking down a country road in Mayberry.

My left eye sees things but it's just lazy, and you know when there's work to be done and something is lazy, something else comes in and takes over, i.e. the right eye.

As a child, if I covered my right eye, it seemed as though the images seen with the left eye would get darker and certainly blurry.  I was forced to wear an eye patch when reading or watching TV and it was so annoying it ruined the pleasure.  My family even had to take speech lessons to understand me.  After several years, the problem remained and the patch was thrown away.

It wasn't until I was in mid-life and became good friends with my optometrist, that I learned more about my condition and finally had an explanation about parts of my life.

Now I know why I could never hit a moving target, be it a baseball, tennis ball, badminton birdie - I have no depth perception.  I'm not sure what the excuse is for a stationary golf  ball, but after 2-3 hours of 30 strokes per hole and the ball still sitting on the tee, I gave up on that too.  At least I finally had an excuse for being the last pick in gym class.

So how does one survive without depth perception? It's easy; my brain has adapted.  I do have perspective, so I can tell objects are far away because they are smaller. I've never really known what 3-D looks like. As a result, that explains why I could do well at bowling and archery since I could focus on a distant stationary target.

I can also parallel park, but for me objects are actually farther than they appear to be so there is always plenty of room for maneuvering in the spots I choose. But when I'm a passenger and someone else is parking, I cringe, shut my eyes, and get ready for the inevitable crunch (which never happens) against another vehicle. The parking space always looks too darn small.

I remember a family vacation when I was young where we were all excited about going to see a 3-D movie.  I put on the special glasses and all I could see were red and blue double images that drove me crazy.  I saw the same thing without the glasses.

"Didn't you see that arm reach out of the movie screen and almost touch you?"

"Nope. And I'm getting a headache so get me out of here." Whiners always ruin the fun for others.

What is weird is that I think three dimensionally.  When looking at photographs or blue prints, I can visualize the space and understand the dimension and volume in my mind, more so than most people do. Perhaps it's because two dimensions is my reality.

The only real problem I have with amblyopia is being beaten up all the time.  My left side is always bruised and sore from door jambs and table corners jumping in front of me.

Many amblyopes have misaligned eyes and if I'm really tired and if you look really hard, you'll find my left eye just slightly turned toward my nose.  There is some entertainment value with this condition. If I feel like being goofy, I can get that left eye looking at the bridge of my nose while my right eye looks straight ahead.


Going Like Sixty said...

Some of the great comics of our time played at The Lazy Eye.

And you would just make me fall down in a heap laughing if you looked at me like that.

Do you sometime do the Dick Van Dyke/ottoman move?

Word verifier: Sawast, v. I thought I saw the door, but my amblyopia indicated I sawast the jamb.

Catch Her in the Wry said...

My moves are more like a comic drunk - hit the door or furniture, then bounce and stagger.

Larry Wallberg said...

One of the things I love about Catch Her in the Wry is that it's always educational. And the knowledge you impart is not merely theoretical; it's practical information that we can use in our everyday lives.

I already knew what amblyopia was, but I had no idea that the Andy Griffith Show theme song had words. Those lyrics gave me needed insight into Mayberry culture, which of course comes in very handy for a New Yawker transplanted to Kentucky.

Catch Her in the Wry said...

Larry: I do enjoy enlightening my audience. Therefore, I must inform you that Mayberry is in North Carolina, which has a much more sophisticated culture than Kentucky. You need to dumb down the lyrics for more accurate insight.

Crockhead said...

I have it too, although apparently less severely than you do. I can see 3-D and really don't have a problem with depth perception (I think) although I was never good in sports that involved hitting balls. Like you, I was supposed to wear an eye patch over my good eye when I was little but didn't like to do it, so stuck the patch in my pocket.

Catch Her in the Wry said...

crockhead: Let's get together and talk pirate some day.

Alice said...

My eldest had what was called "strabismus" (sp?) but had/has similar problems playing tennis etc, but surgery pretty well fixed it except for when she gets really really tired. Is it the same thing? If so, maybe it makes the IQ grow. She's a high IQ too, as I understand are you. Maybe it's the price you both pay.

Crockhead said...

Aaaargh! We'll wear our eye patches that we wouldn't wear as kids and drink some rum.

Red Shoes said...

One can always count on 'Catch Her In The Wry' to have great posts! I can talk like a pirate... but that's about it... arrrggghhhhh...


white rabbit said...

You're an antelope???

*puzzled look*

Catch Her in the Wry said...

Alice: It's not the same. Amblyopia is a lazy eye that malfunctions in the brain and the other eye takes over for both eyes, result in monocular vision. Because the eye is lazy it sometimes, but not always, becomes crossed (strabismus). Strabismus can exist without amblyopia and vice versa.

Red and Crock: You both need to watch the talk like a pirate video. There's more to pirate talk than "aaarghh!" ;-)

White: Yes, so please don't call me deer.