For you to understand the gratitude I have to Dr McCrodan and the neurovision therapists and staff of the Opto-mization clinic you will need some personal information.
When I was referred to the Opto-mization Neuro Visual Performance clinic I was surviving 15- 20 headaches and 6 - 8 days of debilitating painful migraines every month. I was unable to do much of anything without causing vertigo, double vision, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and pain in my head and neck. I had increased fatigue and was stressed, anxious and had trouble concentrating.
I have a complicated medical history including Rheumatoid Arthritis, auto-immune issues, Asthma, numerous concussions and other damaging effects from sports, abuse, and a car crash. I also had a previous history of severe chronic migraines since age 10 that included classic (seeing auras, blurred vision, light and sound sensitivity) and which mostly resolved to episodic migraine after menopause. My husband drown while we were on vacationing in Mexico in 2013 and the trauma caused me PTSD nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety. I also had cataract surgery in 2016 and made the grave mistake of have 2 different corrective lenses in my eyes, one for distance and one for reading (the theory was I would not need glasses). In 2018 my headaches started again, and my usual medication did nothing to relieve them. In Nov of 2019 I braked/swerved to avoid hitting a dog and hit a parked car, the damage was to my right rear-view mirror and their left-rear view mirror.
Why am I telling you this, you wonder?
So you are aware that I have lived with pain most of my life and had developed the resources and tools to advocate for myself and had taken responsibility to try many medical (Ophthalmologist, Allergist, Physio therapy, xrays cat scans pain medication etc.) nutritional (finding and removing trigger foods and adding more supplements) alternative/complementary and metaphysical therapies (chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, meditation, Tai Chi).
My GP of 27 years had passed away and I had to try find a new Dr. Then, explain my history and the steps I had already taken to try and alleviate the headaches, pain and nausea.
As my headaches continued to worsen there were many reasons I could be having them according to my new Drs. So, I worked to get off my opiate meds as they assumed I was having rebound headaches; I was getting a new treatment for the arthritis and PTSD and my life due to headaches was still getting even smaller.
These migraines were not like my “old” headaches.Added to pain, light and sound sensitivity was double vision, dizziness, anxiety, confusion, and severe neck pain. The nausea and vomiting were happening all the time.
- I went from reading 5-6 books a week to barely reading 1 over many days because of double vision and headaches (I could only use a Ereader and I made the font huge)
- I stopped hiking as the I had vertigo walking on uneven ground
- I stopped writing
- I couldn’t use my camera as trying to focus gave me a headache.
- I stopped painting and card making because I couldn’t get my hand and eyes to work together (I went to eye ophthalmologist. – I passed all the vision tests but was given distance glasses for driving).
- I hated to go grocery shopping, then all shopping, I got stressed and anxious (which they attributed to PTSD).
- I was driving even less than before the cataract surgery and hated parking (I have always loved driving).
- I stopped volunteering for Girl Guides as a trainer because I found it hard to concentrate and focus
My new GP recommended vestibular rehabilitation physiotherapy (head/neck) and I found Bernard Tonks and after spending 1 investigative session with him; he was able to show me that my eyes were not working together and explain that it was most probably a vision processing problem.
He referred me to Dr. Cameron McCrodan at the Opto-mization Neuro Visual Performance Clinic . After the thoroughly intense and extensive intake form and vision and visual tests Dr McCrodan explained we don’t see with our eyes. We see with our brain. He spent the time to go over the information and what I realised was my vision processing had in all probability sustained damage from concussions and the different lenses as well as the last accident.
I had not realized until that day that I had NO depth perception left and that a learned reading habit of fast scanning to avoid dancing and double letters as well as headaches, fatigue and anxiety were all related.
I was shocked by fact that he thought with hard work, commitment, new glasses, that may require multiple lens changes and a high price tag (for someone who lives on a fixed income) he was sure that working with neurovision therapist over 25 weeks I could be helped. I considered the money and the commitment and the possible hope of lessening the headaches. I left the clinic that day cautiously optimistic, wearing a pair of glasses with scotch tape on them to help start the process of correcting the depth perception, ordering new glasses, and booking weekly vision therapy sessions.
Vision Therapy – the reality
I started working on my vision therapy and like learning a new language, the exercises required practice and time commitment daily. At first, my symptoms, mostly dizziness, nausea and headaches were less intense but daily after doing my homework exercises. I learned to break them up through out the day and then to take breaks often.
My vision therapy started in the middle of covid and with my auto-immune disease I get colds quite often and would have to post pone my sessions. My original therapist had taken time off for health reasons and then I was up island and coming back weekly was stressful, so we went to every other week or virtually. Throughout all of that, I continued to do my exercises diligently.
I started to notice I was reading more often within a month. Some other changes we subtle, others, were more obvious to me and my support network. Like walking outside and then being able to walk on a park path then a hike in the woods.
The many and varied exercises boggled and fascinated me and my campground (LOL). Magnets, flashlights, 3D type glasses, exercises with names like Brock string, bug on a wall, using bean bags, blocks, string, tees, rope balls, I learned convergence, divergence, spatial awareness. My symptoms would lessen and some of my skills and hobbies returned so gradually I almost hadn’t noticed, like that I was writing short stories, taking pictures, making cards and painting rocks. I had moments that the improvement jumped a level and there were moments when I plateaued and was frustrated.
It has taken a year to do my 25 neurovision therapy sessions and I have had 3 changes of lenses in 3 pairs of glasses. I have my depth perception back and am now mostly able to recognise the things that can trigger vertigo symptoms. The debilitating headaches and nausea are so much better, so is my concentration and anxiety. I have my creative outlets back writing, crafting, photographing and the ability to read again and to read slowly and enjoy each sentence. These are all precious gifts and I sincerely thank Dr McCrodan, Eric, Maddi, and the clinic team for giving me back my life. To help me go from surviving to THRIVING.