Adventures in Two Dimensions

I am fairly certain that I have mentioned before that I have monocular vision, but I don’t know if I’ve defined what it is. There’s probably a doctor that can technically explain it better than me, but I have the life experience.

People aren’t (generally) born with monocular vision. It is created (in my case, lack of oxygen in the delivery room), and there are two types. The first is injury resulting in loss of vision from one eye. I have the second kind. I can see out of both eyes, but they don’t track together. One eye fixates and the other drifts or turns inward. I have no control over what my non-dominant eye is doing, and cannot direct my brain regarding which eye to use.

My field of vision changes without my awareness when I’m wearing my glasses, so I put off getting them for the longest time. This is because when my left eye became much weaker than my right, I was right-eye dominant all the time. Here’s why it’s important: I only have a modicum of peripheral vision in the eye my brain has chosen, and absolutely none in the other. It leads to disaster when driving, and I lose things that were right in front of my face one second prior.

I used to drive all the time. I lived in the suburbs of Houston and I had no choice. It wasn’t until I moved to DC and was given the option of not driving that I considered stopping altogether. I was wondering if I could find data on how dangerous it was. According to a study I read comparing binocular and monocular vision in race car drivers (they all had binocular vision; monocular was simulated), monocular vision created accidents six percent of the time. That seems low until you realize just how much you drive, and you’re likely to have an accident six out of 100 times, all of them being your fault.

Monocular vision is noticeable, and I’ve had my fair share of teasing about it, even as an adult. I am very self-deprecating, and I make myself laugh all the time. It’s punching down when other people do it.

However, there is one aspect that I didn’t even think about until today. I like this game called “Feeding Frenzy 2.” It’s simple and ridiculous,feedingfrenzy2 but I have a hard time. The light bulb moment was when I realized I was playing on a widescreen monitor. I don’t see the fish on the edges of the screen unless I turn my head.

I am constantly turning my head…… all day, every day. The most common question I get is “which eye are you looking at me with?” I ignore that they ended the sentence with a preposition in order not to be Petty Level 3000, but apparently it is disarming to some people that one eye is either turned inward or outward. The absolute truth is that I don’t know, and maybe that’s why those words are one of my hot buttons.

In fact, about 15 years ago, I walked out on a job before it started because I was so mad at the recruiting company managing me (it was a temp). The recruiter met me a few minutes before the interview, so I was already nervous. He said, “I think it would make everyone more comfortable if you would announce the problem about your eye as you walk in.” I wish I’d called him out with an “absolutelyfuckingnot;” I felt about six inches tall, even though my future coworkers hired me on the spot. I was not interested in working with someone who punched down the second time I met him. I didn’t want there to be a third. I have enough problems beating myself up. I didn’t need anyone to “help.”

Between the way I see and the way I move, at work I am awkward enough. This is because you generally don’t get close enough to your coworkers that they feel comfortable asking questions. It’s easier for them to just write me off as weird and keep me at arm’s length.

The other huge problem is that people forget even after I’ve told them about my condition, and when I lose something or they want me to see what they do, they get perturbed. When I lose something, I’m considered flaky. Annoyance appears in people’s voices when I can’t see something….. “it’s right there. RIGHT THERE!” I have no idea what you’re pointing at- don’t even bother. I’ve gotten used to pretending I see a whole host of things, particularly birds and planes.

This is because in addition to my peripheral vision being absent, so is my depth perception.

I’m not very good at sports, although I can sort of fake it with soccer. It is easier to judge depth perception when the ball is on the ground. If I am catching a baseball or shooting a basketball, the difficulty is astronomical. Sometimes I make miraculous catches/baskets by accident.

I also politely decline and seethe inside when invited to a 3D movie, but only if it’s a friend I’ve told a hundred times that I can’t see them…. to me, the things that are supposed to jump out at you separate into two different colors and stay flat on the screen, turning to one side. It makes my head hurt and it costs more. I don’t like paying for migraines when I generally get them for free…. sometimes even a 2-for-1 special.

Speaking of seething inside, my movement and vision issues cause enormous self-esteem issues which present as rage, stuffed down because I use the buttons on my clothes to hold in my feelings. My self-esteem often keeps me from standing up for myself when I feel hurt by other people’s words….. I can’t even stand up to me.


2 thoughts on “Adventures in Two Dimensions

    1. The differences, I think, are that with amblyopia and lazy eye, the eye only turns inward, never outward and your brain doesn’t change which eye is dominant, so you have the same field of vision and compensate the same way 100% of the time. I don’t know which way I need to compensate, ever.


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