I have been in private practice since 1990. Every so often someone who has experienced the benefits of vision therapy feels inspired to share their feelings in writing. This is always a gratifying experience for me since, in many cases, the changes that take place are gradual and subtle. This means that people do not always notice even dramatic improvement. For example, many people have eliminated frequent, severe headaches without even noticing that something was different until I asked them. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to be a part of such a process whether the results are obvious to the individual or not. I am grateful to have the knowledge to act as a guide for those with the desire and courage to pursue the work of taking part in their own health maintenance. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the chance to hear, in someone's own words, that my work has really been powerful and appreciated. Very few feel compelled to put their thoughts in writing or video. I thought I’d share some of those personal displays of understanding and appreciation that I found particularly gratifying and inspirational.
February 15, 2012
Hi Dr. Gallop,
I want to say that I continue to be amazed at the changes in Jesse. He reads a lot more – not just what he has to read, but for pleasure, and much more quickly than before. He also seems to enjoy writing much more. He told me the other day that he enjoys writing in the journal I got for him. Miracle! He also said that he thinks school has gotten easier and is a lot more fun. I have not made it any easier. He is just able to do it without getting headaches and being frustrated and tired. Score! In his P.E. co-op class, he was recently tested on ball skills and met every standard for his age. His teacher commented on how amazing his improvement has been over the last year. I am so thankful and he, of course, is thrilled.
I really appreciate all you have done.
Jesse and his brother, also a patient of mine made this Lego version of my vision therapy room
Learning To See: One Woman’s Experience With Vision Therapy
At one point during our time working together I asked Amy if she could put some of the things she had been describing to me during our work together into writing. I didn't realize at the time that Amy had a blog and had already posted what follows. I guess it slipped her mind as well at the time. Eventually she told me about her blog and I got to read the piece below. Amy was truly fun to work with and asked some great questions, and made some very insightful comments about what was happening to her as she went through her vision therapy program, and the various lens changes that were part of the process. We basically worked together for two years, over a three year period. The following was written about two thirds of the way into the therapy program. I will now turn this over to Amy…
Learning To See
August 4, 2011
If you had the chance to see the world with a completely different perspective than the one you are used to using, would you do it?
If you had the chance to see the world with different eyes, would you look?
I did it. Or rather, I am doing it.
What if you were given the chance to change the way you see the world, but you might never be able to go back to the ways things were?
I'm doing it anyway.
I went to the library for a summer novel but came out with Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions, by Susan R. Barry. It's about how a neurobiologist with a lifelong vision defect learned how to see stereoscopically by undergoing vision therapy. Previously, she could only see two-dimensionally.
For explanation: Two-dimensional vision, or 2-D, is flat, like a drawing on paper. 3-D means that there is also depth: an actual room with furniture in it, instead of a drawing of such a room.
It's a fascinating story. At the end of the book, the author listed little tests you could try online to check your own depth perception.
I failed every single one of them.
I discovered, to my horror, that the world did not look the way I saw it. There were layers I couldn't use.
I called my sister and said, "I have no depth perception!" And she said (like "duh") "Yeah, I know. That's why your paintings have that compressed space."
I said, "My paintings have compressed space?"
So I made some calls and started vision therapy. Now, a year later, I can see in 3-D. Most of the time. What's really cool is that I can pop it in and out by thinking about it. Although, the longer I go to therapy, the more I lose the ability to retreat to flatspace.
I used to walk around as though I had a flat screen TV in front of my face. Not a good one. Not HD. Certainly not 3-D. Everything I could see was on that flat screen. There was nothing beyond it.
Now I move in space, and it is a totally different experience. It's not just that the world looks different; it feels different, too. In fact, it's like a different planet. A friend, who is undergoing therapy as well, describes it as the difference between mono and stereo in music; there's stuff you just can't hear in mono.
I think it's more like the protagonist's experience in the movie "Avatar," who went from seeing the world from his wheelchair, to being in the world a completely mobile and free-moving person. Before you get offended about my use of a handicapped person in my metaphor, remember that I am legally blind in one eye as the result of a childhood accident. That's what caused my inability to see in three dimensions.
I knew that this course of therapy would probably change my art. Drawing is the act of transferring a three-dimensional subject to a two-dimensional image. I was able to do that with some ease, because I was already seeing in two dimensions anyway. So there was a danger I might lose some of that ease. Or all of it.
I thought that of course now my work would have depth (hopefully both kinds: depth, and depth, if you know what I mean).
Not so. My use of space in art hasn't changed a bit. Apparently I'm not all that interested in portraying space, though I love moving through it. I suppose I spent too many years without it.
What has changed is my use of color.
There are animals who have organs that see infrared and ultraviolet light, the way that our eyes see visible light. I feel like I grew new organs within my eyeballs that see way beyond the spectrum of my prior existence. Do other people always see color the way that I am seeing it now? Without having been "blind" for awhile like I was, do they appreciate it?
It's like the e.e. cummings poem: "now the eyes of my eyes are opened."
It's like the gospel version of Amazing Grace: "was blind, but now I see."
If a person is the sum of her perceptions, then I have become a whole different entity. It's so worth it.
Here is one from many years ago. Robin was about 11 years old at the time. She was struggling with reading and frequent headaches when we started. Robin is now a dedicated occupational therapist. Her mother remains certain that without vision therapy Robin would never have been able to accomplish this. Robin has not forgotten either and understands the importance of the visual process for those in her care.
Some thoughts on my work with Dr. Gallop
Dr. Gallop is a life saver. I sustained head trauma from a car accident in May 2012. After being in rehab for 4 months, I was told that they had done as much as they could to help recover my vision issues (monocular diplopia, convergence pain and cognitive reading comprehension problems). I also suffered from headaches and significantly decreased peripheral vision. Although my peripheral vision returned, I was still not able to comprehend what I was reading, was still swapping numbers and letters, getting severe migraines while trying to work on my computer. I was devastated that this would be my condition for the rest of my life.
Then I was referred to Dr. Gallop. In just a few months, I saw amazing progress. He suggested I modify my contact lens prescription and get glasses to wear over my contacts for reading. We also started vision therapy. I started reading again. I continue to read more and more and I'm able to comprehend what I read. Working on the computer gets easier and easier. My work with Dr. Gallop has also helped me as an equestrian. I could not ride for over a year. When I returned to riding in May 2013, my accuracy jumping fences with my horse not only didn't suffer at all from my time away, but was actually better than I before the accident! I am sure this is because of Dr. Gallop's vision therapy.
Thank you Dr. Gallop for helping me to get my life back!
I have been working alongside Joe Romano for several years. We refer children to each other in order to provide the most complete therapy possible, when necessary. Joe often sees children he knows will benefit from vision therapy and developmental lenses and helps educate parents about how and why vision therapy and lenses might benefit their children. This video is one mother (and speech therapist) sharing her experiences of her daughter working with Joe Romano and also doing vision therapy in my office. She also has some great things to say about The Kingdom of Should.
You can read more about Nick on my blog. (see The Story of Nick and his Super Gobstopping Headache) Nick finally began work on the latest chapter of his story book describing his journey of illness, medication, redemption and recovery. He was put through the wringer and I was fortunate enough to be called upon to see if I could help Nick feel better. I was even more fortunate to be able to create a treatment plan that did just that. I wanted to share the latest chapter in Nick’s story in his own words. I had no input into this whatsoever. Nick brought this to his last vision therapy session and showed it to me. All I did was type it up – his version was nicely hand-written…
I continue my eye therapy weekly with Dr. Steven Gallop. After about a month of therapy I noticed that my headaches had disappeared completely! I was doing exercises each week to help my eyes converge better. Most of the exercises were really fun! I would walk on a balance beam forwards and backwards – sometimes wearing glasses and sometimes one eye will be covered. Dr. Steve said they weren’t exercises for my eyes as much as for my brain. He was helping my brain tell my eyes what to see. I put different colored pegs in holes – sometimes the holes are spinning! That’s my favorite! I also read lots of wall charts of numbers and letters. Each week Dr. Steve adds something new. It’s really fun, but most of all I’m just glad not to have a headache! I will probably always wear glasses for close work, but my eye therapy is helping my eyes focus better so that my glasses won’t have to be too strong.
April 18, 2012
Hello, Dr. Gallop,
I do not know if you remember me. My name is Daniel and I used to see you for vision therapy once a week a few years ago until our family moved to Middle Tennessee. We have been living there for two and one half years now and like living there very much. I really appreciate your approach to optometry and I am still wearing the pair of bifocal eyeglasses you made for me four years ago.
A few months ago, the frames of those glasses broke. I had them repaired with glue but about a week ago they broke again. I think the frames may be too damaged to be repaired. My eyesight improved through your training and since then it has not worsened but has remained steady. It is probably time for me to get a new prescription (perhaps a weaker one that would encourage my eyes to improve even more). However, most optometrists do not share your approach and would prescribe stronger eyeglasses which would cause my eyes to weaken over time. Do you know of any optometrists in the Nashville area who share your approach to optometry whom you could recommend? If not, do you know of any optometrists you would recommend who live in Tennessee or closer to it than your office in Pennsylvania?
November 10, 2011
Hi Dr. Gallop,
The glasses seem to be working very well for Jordan. It’s like he sees the world with a new set of eyes. He’s very calm and doesn’t seem to be seeking as much sensory input as he usually does like walking into things, touching everything, etc. You can really see the difference it has made in just one day.
I forwarded your evaluation report to Jordan’s school. His OT just got up with me and would love for her exercises and goals for Jordan to coincide with yours. For his upcoming IEP she was going to include eye muscle (ocular motor) goals as well as visual praxis goals. She would like to know if there are any specific exercises you would like her to work on with Jordan to improve the situation.
Also if it is alright with you she would like to join me for one of his sessions to see what you are working on with Jordan so that she can better help him in his therapy at school.
April 15, 1998
Dear Dr. Gallop:
As a holistic practitioner, I am quite impressed with the behavioral optometric philosophy and especially your specific approach. The reduction of my eyeglass prescription has enabled me to accomplish the following:
1. I am moving toward a level of eye compensation which allows me to see adequately without the over-prescribing which I was subject to previously. The over-prescribing caused undue eye fatigue and stress. I only realized this once the prescription was reduced and I experienced the absence of symptoms I became used to (relative normalcy).
2. In addition, it was made apparent to me through the exercises I performed at your office that my spatial perception was compromised as the result of the over-prescribing and unnecessary astigmatism correction. My accuracy dramatically increased with minimal corrective lenses, and was even better with no lenses at all.
3. I now use my vision as a self-diagnosing tool in regards to my general level of health. Even if other symptoms are subclinical, I am aware that I am not up to par when I need stronger lenses for reading. In this case I merely return temporarily to an old pair of glasses for reading purposes only. I also take other precautionary measures in light of my compromised health status. It is like having a built-in highly sensitive “idiot light.”
4. Being self-reliant and more in harmony with nature and my environment are extremely important to me as a chiropractor. The outside-in philosophy of allopathic medicine should be a last resort or a heroic measure, not a first course. Relying on the body’s own inherent curative and compensatory abilities is the most logical way of approaching health. Anything else is an overkill with heavy prices to be paid.
Thank you for making this most important service available.
Dr. Melvin R., New Castle, Delaware
December 12, 1997
I am forever grateful to you and the wonderful service you have provided. My vision therapy has had an amazing impact on my life, on so many levels. As I have learned to rely less on my “overprescribed” glasses, and I have reached much clarity and direction with which to move forward. I am able to “see” and understand myself as well as all my interactions more clearly. I feel more trusting of myself and the universe I am so connected to. My inner self has more fully blossomed, I seem to be more balanced, peaceful, content, helpful; and less indecisive, anxious, and attached! I miss my sessions already; they were great fun.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you
Mindy A., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This 'Vision Record' was created for me by Gina who was featured in my article A Variation on the Use of Binasal Occlusion. Gina was confined to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy. She also had significant visual deficiencies. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet Gina and to provide some degree of improvement in her quality of life immediately by strategically placing two narrow strips of opaque material on her glasses. Since Gina, I have used this technique many times with similarly striking results.
My Vision Record
March 15, 1996 I can’t believe how two pieces of tape can make such a difference. It’s so much easier to see as well as reading signs. My body is less tense. I seem to be able to read faster, i.e. I can read the credits on the TV screen and actually finish before the screen changes
I have always had problems knowing when my head was tilted or straight because there was no change either way in my visual perception. The tape seems to help me notice my head tilt as well as the ability to straighten it.
My head tilt only bothered me when I saw myself in pictures because others also saw me as less intelligent. Friends commented that I seemed more happy and relaxed.
March 16, 1996 Friend noticed I kept my head a lot straighter today. While riding in the car I seem to be able to focus on the road signs quicker and easier. I still tilt my head when I’m tired but at least I know it was tilted.
March 17, 1996 Today I was reading my bible which has smaller print. Reading still seems to go quicker and easier even without a bookmark. The only time the tape is irritating is when I’m tired and tilt my head. I seem to have less eye strain headaches and muscle spasms. I hope this continues.
March 18, 1996 My work related responsibilities are going quicker and easier. However I am becoming concerned about what happens when it rains; will the tape come off? When it comes off how will I know where to place it. Guess I’ll try to figure it out from the second pair where the tape is hopefully not damaged.
April 15, 1996 Life in general is less stressful. I am still less spastic. I am able to get more reading as well as studying done in less time. I got a B on my midterm.
I also know people see me as more intelligent as well as more confident. Maybe I am more confident because things are going easier and I am happier. I change the tape several times, tracing it off the good tape on the glasses seems to do the best job. I seem to have leveled out as far as my work speed and accuracy. Clients who come into the office seem to relate to me in more of a positive manner. Is it me, is it the tape, or a combination ot the two. I really don’t care. I’m just glad it’s more positive. There are always questions concerning the tape, but it’s not any different than explaining about my physical handicap or my assistance dog. What is one more difference, especially if it helps.
April 19, 1996 Tried to leave the tape off and see if I could tell the difference in my head tilt etc. without the tape; no such luck, at least I know what works.
May 8, 1996 I continue to be able to read book and notes faster and with ease, comprehending more in the process. Work is still going well. My head tilts when I’m tired, but at least I know it. I hope I go see doctor Gallop so I can learn what is wrong and how I can compensate for the problems.
I got a B in my course this semester, maybe in the fall I’ll try two.
September 13, 1995
Some thoughts on my visual therapy…
When I first talked with Dr. Gallop about doing visual therapy he asked me what my goals were. I was asking myself those same questions. I had been having trouble with my eyes on and off over the past three years. But it wasn’t dramatic – I could certainly get by day to day. And this was a big commitment, even just to try if for a few weeks. But I had a strong feeling inside that I would learn something very important, that the healing would go way beyond my eyes. And I was right.
At first I was just thrilled with how much I learned about how my eyes work. That in and of itself was healing. I had a sense that I could help heal my eyes and that they were supposed to be working much better than they were and , most important, that it was possible.
I definitely noticed progress early on. But after a series of weeks I had to take a break from the sessions because of my work schedule. After a few weeks away from the sessions my eyes, or I guess it was actually my eyelids began to get irritated. It was mild enough for a few weeks, but after a while I couldn’t wear my contacts and people were asking me what was wrong with my eyes. I tried all kinds of things to see if I had developed and allergic reaction to my makeup or soap or whatever. But nothing helped. So I called Dr. Gallop. He had me try different contacts, different solutions. In the meantime I started up session again. After we had exhausted all ideas and he was ready to refer me to someone else, I mentioned that I had an odd sort of feeling that I was having this reaction so that I would come back and begin therapy again. Dr. Gallop thought it was worth following that instinct and met it head on by reducing my prescription again. Within a week my eyes cleared up. They have been fine ever since.
The sessions that I had at that point were the most powerful. I made what I consider to be huge progress both with my eyes and with some personal learning. There was one learning that stands way out for me. I was doing an exercise that I really never liked. I had done it enough to understand how I was limiting what I could see. But try as I might, and with all Dr. Gallop’s coaching, I hadn’t been able to see all the images. Then one day I was doing the exercise again. I had this strong sense that I was looking at myself, straight at myself and not through the lenses of other peoples’ eyes. I started to shake inside. I knew I was about to get it. And then I did. I could see the new images. I was so excited. I felt so relieved – like I had made a huge breakthrough. I cried a lot on the way home. This was a huge learning for me. And it made a big difference in how I have interacted with people. I have been able to act much more on my own instincts and stopped filtering what I say through a series of “but what will they think?” lenses. I make much more powerful suggestions and there have been numerous times when I can tell that by me offering the comment or asking the question, that before I would have held back on, that the meeting has been tremendously more effective. Usually because we deal more with the direct issues instead of skirting around them.
I can tell a lot of difference in the way I see things. In terms of my eyes, I can see better with a weaker prescription. I have better peripheral vision. I can see more of the big picture all at once rather than focusing on specific things and darting all over the place. I can tell when I am straining my eyes and can consciously relax them. There are a lot of other ways I see things differently. I tend to look more at the whole picture when working to solve problems. I can see how things relate. I am more conscious of when I am getting tense and am getting better at consciously relaxing. And just as I am less dependent on my glasses and contacts, I am less dependent on other people in terms of feeling good about myself. I feel much more independent and then can approach other people in a much more effective way. I also have a much clearer vision about my life, my purpose and direction.
I had taken another break for a few months. I just started another set of sessions. I still feel like I have a lot to learn. But I feel like even after I have completed my sessions with Dr. Gallop, I will continue to learn. Because now I have the skill to be conscious of how I am looking at things and can determine if there are other options. I believe I will be continuing this journey of visual healing growth through my whole like.
I hope this gives you some idea of how valuable this has been for me. Thank you!!!
Elizabeth G., West Chester, Pennsylvania
Cynthia gives a clear account of her visual history and her real life complaints at the time of her first visit:
I first came to Dr. Gallop with a constellation of complaints. The chief among them was a blurry spot in my vision that seemed to come and go. I had seen a neurologist with this complaint, but after checking the health of my eyes and my visual reflexes, he told me that there was nothing physically wrong and that I should just get used to it. Along with the blurry spot that had been plaguing me for a year or more, I was experiencing ever-increasing eye strain and accompanying headaches. By the end of a day, I literally had to close my eyes to relieve the stress—taking off my glasses didn’t seem to provide enough relief. I was fortunate enough to have an optometrist who knew about and believed in vision therapy and thought that it would be beneficial for me, particularly since I had undergone corrective surgery for “lazy eye” when I was ten years old. He referred me to Dr. Gallop.
I said earlier that I had several complaints—blurry vision, eye strain. I was also failing at being able to wear contact lenses. I had been able to use them successfully as a young teen, but at 35 I was less and less comfortable with them. I had even invested quite a bit of money in a pair that was specifically designed to correct astigmatism. By the time I came to see Dr. Gallop, I was wearing my glasses almost exclusively—and wasn’t happy about it.
After my very first visit, Dr. Gallop recommended that I put aside my glasses and begin to wear just one contact lens, which he prescribed. After only a day or so of adjustment, I was as happy as could be with the one lens. By the time that several weeks had passed, my glasses (when I found myself using them) felt very uncomfortable. The eye strain disappeared. Now, almost a year later, it is impossible for me to tolerate my glasses for more than fifteen minutes. In fact, I am convinced that I can see BETTER (not necessarily with more acuity, but better) without any correction than with those glasses.
The blurry spot that was bothering me seemed to fade away with the contacts for quite a while. Then, about two months ago, it came back. The doctor asked me to try wearing a pair of glasses that contain a mild prism and this does the trick. The more often I wear the glasses (just for short stretches) the less often the spots appear. Our next step will be to put these lenses into a pair of glasses of my own that I can more comfortably wear when I need them.
These results are those that I wanted to accomplish. Based on the way I am performing certain exercises during our sessions today compared to 11 months ago, I can also see that I am able to accomplish visual tasks that were impossible before. Dr. Gallop knows what all of that means, I just know that my visual life is greatly—really amazingly—improved. There is no doubt in my mind that my weekly sessions with Dr. Gallop are the cause for this change.