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Bill The Seasick Sailor

Bill The Seasick Sailor

Bill is a loyal patient who comes in every five years like clockwork. He is a large, gentle man, not someone you would peg as the traveling salesman type. Bill is low-key and friendly and was very happy with the prescription he had from a previous doctor, which is something I don't see very often in my office. Bill was fifty years old when we met. He and his family relocated and therefore had to give up the care of an excellent optometrist in Cincinnati. Bill and his family were greatly impressed with the care they received in Cincinnati and were deeply disappointed by what they found elsewhere having been spoiled by their previous optometric experience. Luckily, after several location changes they ended up in Pittsburgh and the care of another excellent optometrist. Again they were impressed by the care they were receiving but once more needed to relocate and ended up in my neck of the woods.

I had examined and subsequently worked with Bill's twenty-four year old daughter before Bill came in himself, one year later. By the time Bill returned for his regular five-year follow-up, I had also started and finished treating his wife for computer fatigue and general eye discomfort. Bill had no complaints other than the fact that he was not enjoying boating as much as he would have liked due to seasickness. Bill and his wife had learned to sail and got a boat almost 10 years earlier. He reported that when sailing season started he would get out on the boat only to find that he was extremely seasick - especially when the lighting was reduced. As the sailing season wore on, the seasickness lessened and finally would stop just about the time he was ready to put the boat up for the winter - this scenario repeated itself year after year. Medications were tried and failed, so Bill just stopped asking doctors for solutions.

I examined Bill, and several glitches appeared in his visual profile that made me think there was a visual component to his seasickness and that vision therapy would be helpful. These same findings were there before, but Bill never had any complaints, so I just updated his glasses prescription. I had a good feeling that it was worth trying some vision therapy even though I'd never treated anyone specifically for motion sickness of any kind. It is very common however for people to decrease or lose their motion sickness as a result of doing vision therapy to solve other types of complaints. We both agreed it was worth a try.

Nothing out of the ordinary was done as far as the types of vision therapy procedures, but in short order Bill was feeling better than usual out on the water. Bill was very satisfied with the changes he experienced and never got seasick again.

I decided to share this case because it is not the typical vision therapy situation. Most of my patients have reading and/or learning problems, developmental delays, concussions or other acquired brain injuries, eye fatigue, strabismus, lazy eye and things of that nature. As I mentioned, this was the first time I treated someone whose only complaint was motion sickness, in this case - seasickness. There are many people with a variety of complaints, which often go unanswered by doctors who are not creative enough to look beyond the surface. Anyone at any age who has complaints that can in any way be tied to visual development is likely to benefit from what behavioral optometry has to offer. Go to OEPF to find a behavioral optometrist near you.

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