“Reading is not scary anymore” – we normally expect to hear this statement at the end of a vision training program. Would you expect it from a child, one who has had difficulty progressing with reading and learning? Most likely, and usually, this is the case. Would you expect to hear that statement from a 22-year-old young man, who is nothing short of being a living and breathing high achiever? Not so much. So let me tell you more about Harry (*).
READING IS NOT SCARY ANYMORE
Harry is in his 4th year of studying medicine with very firm goals to specialise. He is also an elite athlete, training at a very high level with Olympic aspirations. Harry is an intelligent and articulate person with a secret – he has never been ‘good’ at reading. At our first meeting, Harry explains that he frequently reads the same sentence three or four times over in order to understand it. He loses his place and his ability to comprehend what he is reading gets worse over time. I found out that Harry has headaches and sore eyes every single day! The reason why he came to see me was because he has noticed a slight blurriness with one eye and he has become very glare sensitive.
An assessment of Harry’s vision revealed he has some optical blur in the form of astigmatism. But it was his near vision skill functioning that was more telling. Harry has poor convergence and focusing skills. His eyes find it really difficult to point inwards together at the reading distance – and this is where our personality traits dictate what happens next to adapt to this situation. Being a very driven person, Harry learnt to exert extra effort when reading, but he just was not able to do it easily. One of the adaptations is that his eyeball actually changed shape and caused optical blur (astigmatism).
I asked Harry if he wanted to improve his vision skills and reading skills. Of course he rose to the challenge and started on a course of vision training along with support glasses. About eight weeks in, Harry started noticing some amazing changes: he now can read massive amounts of material and actually finds it relaxing! Harry can speed read and pick out relevant information from research articles because he can understand what he is reading the very first time. He started getting very excited, and so did I. He can also notice much more details for close tasks (for example, when on his hospital rounds).
At the end of the program, Harry says he can now read until his task is complete. He has started his own venture, inventing and manufacturing an appliance to improve athletic skills. He no longer avoids reading and says it is not scary anymore. Harry has reflected that he could never have achieved so much before. So vision training is not just about helping people who are struggling; it is about helping everyone be the very best that they can be. I am so glad I could help Harry start to reach his potential.
(*) Names have been changed to protect privacy.