learn by learning…

It can sometimes be an interesting challenge to grasp and understand the value of experience, particularly in the ‘instant validation’ times we live in. Why do we need to experience failure and how can it possibly help us to become better?  Why can’t we just watch the video on ‘how to complete this task’ and then discuss it among the experts?  Why should I take my time-saving money when I can have it now by borrowing at an increased interest rate? Why should I take a chance on the process and risk failure, when I can be given the answer immediately?  Why take the risk?  Why do the work?  What’s more, try explaining to someone that investing time and effort in Vision Therapy over the next 9 to 12 months may produce the same, or even more functional, cosmetic results that their surgeon claims they can produce in a 45 minute outpatient procedure.  Although the two approaches may be apples and oranges to those of us in the business, from the outside looking in, the conundrum is understandable.

But let’s face it, we all take risks.  Unless you’ve somehow converted to become The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, you, too, take risks on some level everyday.  Driving your car, walking across the street, flying in an airplane, and walking into a bank are all measurable risks. They all have an element of possible failure. They are all experiences that we build upon. You could watch videos all week about the safety of air travel, yet a fear of flying may not subside until after several safe flight experiences.  It’s just how it works.  We gain knowledge, power and understanding from experience and we use those experiences to maneuver through our next minutes, hours, days, and years because sometimes there are no shortcuts.

All this to share a conversation I had this evening with an adult patient.  ‘Chloe’ is in her mid to late 40’s, has two advanced degrees in computer related science, and for her entire life has had a large angle exotropia – or as it is less attractively known – she is ‘walleyed’.

Chloe is very ‘deep’. She is someone who thinks her way through everything and before every activity she wants to know the how, why, and desired result of this process. For the last few weeks Chloe has been working on feeling tone, or more simply, understanding what it feels like when her eyes are in a desired position.  Since we, as humans, also think in language, we are forcing Chloe to refer to desired results as ‘both eyes together’ rather than ‘when my left eye and right eye meet or move apart’.  Therapeutically speaking, helping a patient who has a large angle exotropia can be challenging for many reasons, one of which being that their sense of ‘what this feels like’ can be next to non-existent. Chloe has worked through her VT diligently though, and for split seconds, feels something different – although describing it still remains a foreign concept.

Today, Chloe had a breakthrough of sorts. More like a revelation, really.  As we were working on a fusional activity, Chloe said:

“You know, when I was a kid my dad used to tell me to just pull my eyes together, and although intellectually I understood what he was asking, I had no idea what it meant. Through this process (Vision Therapy) it was easier to learn what to do to make my eyes appear farther apart, and then I just tried to reverse it. When I began to think that way, all these new sensations came over my vision. it’s almost as if I learn by learning”

Remember, she’s very deep.

Chloe has a long way to go, and as was written earlier, her binocularity remains intermittent as we work to solidify her skills.  Her understanding of the necessary process is so intense and she has been a joy to have in our VT room.  Today she learned and confirmed one indisputable fact about Vision Therapy…

Experience counts.


Posted on January 6, 2015, in From My Perspective... and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. williamsandmintod

    Robert, I was just listening to a course which was discussing Irving Berlin. The lecturer posited that Berlin, who grew up on the lower east side of Manhattan and was extremely poor, had an enriched environment is some ways to today’s child who sits on the sofa playing video games. He was immersed in life. gjw


  2. Such a great line! It is unfortunate how the art of learning through experimenting and experiencing is continuously being replaced. Rather than trying and trying and trying again till we succeed, it is so easy to youtube it or google it.


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