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Unexpected changes in perception after eye surgery. What's going on?
May 9, 2012 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Unexpected changes in perception after eye surgery. What's going on?

I recently had surgery for strabismus (lazy eye) to correct the eye position.

One week later, I am still healing, but I think the eye alignment is quite good now. However, there have been some unexpected changes in my perception that are disconcerting:

- My balance has been thrown off. More than once I have almost fallen, and I tend to walk like I am tipsy now. It was previously not great (probably due to strabismus), but good enough. I am in my 40s, but my balance now feels like someone in their 80s.
- My sense of position in space has been altered. As a driver, I normally have an excellent idea of where the car is in space, e.g., I can parallel park in very tight spaces, usually first try. Yesterday when pulling over to the side of the road I ran right into the curb rather than pulling up about 6 inches from it like I normally would. Today when I pulled in the driveway, I ended up about 16" to the right of where I expected to be and I usually get it within 2 or 3 inches.
- A lesser effect is that computer screens now seem brighter and almost 3D.

I realize I should probably not drive any more under the circumstances, so I am stopping. I also will be availing myself of the medical profession (i.e., eye surgeon, physio, whatever else makes sense) for as much help as I can get, but it may be some time before I can see someone.

My questions are:

1) Has anyone experienced this before?
2) Is this to be expected from this type of surgery? The surgeon gave me no warning of these as possible outcomes for what is essentially cosmetic surgery that I had no urgent need of having.
3) Any ideas of how I might expedite my recovery? I fully expect my brain to adapt to the new situation, flexible organ that it is, but I would like to help it in any way that I can.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I have had multiple laser surgeries on one retina and as a result went through a period of about a year where my vision was constantly changing. For the purposes of this discussion, I'll assume you've already talked with your surgeon and all is well with your eye.

If this is indeed simply an issue of your brain needing to catch up with your eyes, then I suggest practice. Doing bead work or other hand-eye coordination type work will help. Even puzzles with tiny pieces. Set up an obstacle course for yourself - in a safe place - and step over a pillow and walk around a book, anything to help get your brain to reset itself.

For me it usually took a few weeks for my brain to catch up to where my eyes were at the time. It's frustrating but does end. It's very like the adjustment period for getting new glasses, though it is kinda crazy making. Good luck!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:35 AM on May 9, 2012


I did a research project on a similar idea last year. I think this situation is similar enough to a person wearing fresnel lenses (that distort your visual field 30 degrees to the left), so I'll say:

You will need to practice. But you can't practice throwing a ball, get really good at that, and then expect to be able to kick a ball properly. I can't find a good paper that explains it simply, but the neural pathways for eye/motor coordination for one task is not the same as the pathway for another task, and you will need to practice each specific task so that you reinforce the proper neural pathways for that task.

For driving, maybe you could go back to the learning to drive situation, where you go with someone to a parking lot and just practice in a controlled environment.

Best of luck!
posted by sarae at 7:49 AM on May 9, 2012


1) Has anyone experienced this before?

Oh, definitely. Most definitely. Heck, I feel really wonky for a few days after updating my eyeglasses prescription, so the suggestion that you're taking some time to adjust to surgery is entirely unsurprising. My dad had a lens replaced a few years back and went from needing an incredibly powerful prescription in that eye to none at all. Took him a few weeks to get used to the fact that his eyes now had different senses of depth perception.

2) Is this to be expected from this type of surgery?

It's to be expected from just about anything that affects your quality of vision, from getting a new pair of glasses all the way up through surgery.

3) Any ideas of how I might expedite my recovery? I fully expect my brain to adapt to the new situation, flexible organ that it is, but I would like to help it in any way that I can.

Not really. Just roll with it. The brain is incredibly plastic, but we're still pretty much in the dark about getting it to do stuff faster. I mean, talk to your doctor, but don't be surprised if he tells you to just put up with it for a few weeks or whatever. Practice is great, but this really just is going to take some time.
posted by valkyryn at 7:50 AM on May 9, 2012


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