When I was a kid, I had a condition commonly called lazy eye. It’s medical name is either strabismus or amblyopia, which are similar maladies. Strabismus is a problem with the alignment of the eyes and is informally called “crossed eyes.” But in my case, I wasn’t crossed eyed. So it was a subcategory of amblyopia called exotropia, where one eye is straight and other is skewed to the left, as in the image below.
My parents took me to a pediatric ophthalmologist, who explained that with this condition, the brain forgets to use the affected (aka lazy) eye. This causes it to become extremely weak, with all visual signals ignored. Essentially, the condition is when the brain suppresses information from one or both eyes.
The good news was that fixing my lazy eye didn’t require surgery. Instead, vision therapy involving different levels of eye focusing exercises could be done at home. It was made up of completing sets of exercises involving different levels of eye focusing in order to strengthen the weaker eye. If successful, it would eventually result in both eyes working together.
First I had to teach my brain to see what my left eye was seeing. Then I used a device similar in nature to a ViewMaster. Remember those?* One exercise involved taking a drawing of a baby that I could see through the left lens of the device and to move it into a crib that I could see through the right lens. Another was putting a hammer visible through the left lens into a toolbox visible through the right lens.
The exercises worked great, and after about a year, I learned to use both eyes equally and they were always looking in the same direction. My visual exercises were so successful, in fact, that I think one of the reasons my wife agreed to marry me was my proficiency at putting the baby in the crib!
* Today, for people who have lazy eye, virtual reality headsets are often used for vision therapy.
Written for my daily word prompt: lazy