ABOUT MY HISTORY

photo-roger-wheaton-red.jpgIn 1959 I chose to be a pharmacist because I was told the program would be taught by lectures more than books. I had done better at science courses than literature. I graduated from Dundee Community Schools in 1960, ranked 13th out of 72.I spent much of my adult life worrying that I would go blind like my mother. In the end we found out the cause was LHON (Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy) and that I was already mildly stricken at age 19 when I lost 1/4 of my right eye. I had been misdiagnosed. Males do not have to fear blindness after that age. I did suffer from occipital neuritis which was very debilitating head pain, which no longer plagues me. This involved inflammation as the optic nerve runs from the retina to the occipital lobes of the brain. The occipital nerves run from the spine across the top of the head under the scalp.

I did not know I was dealing with Irlen Syndrome until I was 56. I went to a talk given by Pam Stevens regarding adult ADD. She was wearing purplish tinted lenses and when she told us why I began to realize that I might have Irlen Syndrome (also known as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome or SSS).When I read I could only read one word or part of a word at a time. However I could read aloud as fast as anyone. Afterward I could not remember what I read or comprehend the message. Pam referred me to Ann Bonvallet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I live. Ann helped me determine that I indeed had Irlen Syndrome and then we determined which exact color tint added to my own eyeglass lenses would help remedy this by acting as a light filter. With this, a rose color, I could read four words at a glance, and I could keep my eyes on the page I was trying to read. Hence the beginning of the end of a long journey.

The latest step in my journey came when I visited Keith Kobet, MD, who had replaced the cataract on my left eye by replacing the lens. I explained that I was experiencing double vision; he advised me that I had exotropia. I was scheduled to see Rebecca Tisch, MD. She performed a bilateral medial rectus resection. This involved cutting and resectioning one muscle in each eye that controlled lateral eye movement. Before surgery I saw a double image to the left of the real image; after the surgery for nearly 2 months I saw double to the right of the real image. Then this slowly subsided and Dr. Tisch prescribed a prism strength of 5 for both lenses. I no longer see double. The amazing thing is that I really did not know how long I had seen double! And when you see my post about the Aspergers patient, Alex Michaels, I am sure she did not realize she was seeing with a distorted perception of her surroundings before she received her Irlen Filter lenses from Ann Bonvallet. I guess I just dismissed the problem as being temporary. I no longer see double. I had consulted Helen Irlen before the surgery; she felt that if I had seen double with just one eye at a time it might be due to Irlen Syndrome. This was not the case.

Now my goal is to share information with families searching for answers. I am very pleased when readers leave a comment on one of my posts or contact me via e-mail. I am at wheat42@gmail.com. Please consult the Start Here button at the top of the page. And after all this I eventually realized I had seen the piece about Irlen Syndrome titled “Reading by the Colors” on 60 Minutes in May of 1988. It went right by me at the time, and I was not clear on how to contact the Irlen Institute. I sadly lost track of the whole idea until about ten years later.