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Depth Perception
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Depth Perception

I am a 59 year old male.  Today, I failed a depth perception exam for employment.  When I was a child, I got hit on the corner of my left eye with a baseball bat.  I am cross-eyed because of it.  Is there anything that can correct my depth perception or can you recommend any way to pass the circle test?  Thank you
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In order to have depth perception your eyes must be lined up perfectly with each other.  Because you have been cross eyed for years your brain may have permanently forgotten how to use the eyes together.  But I have personally treated patients who recovered depth perception decades later.  You need to find an Eye-MD who specializes in adult strabismus.  Go to www.aapos.org and use the doctor locator.
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I'm not an eye care professional, but I know that someone with misaligned eyes is going to have impaired depth perception.  I believe that depth perception is a developmental skill acquired during early childhood, and it cannot be learned after a certain age.  So I suspect that correcting your misalignment might possibly improve your depth perception if your accident with the bat happened after you had acquired depth perception.  However, because it's been a long time since you've used this skill, your chances of much recovery of depth perception might not be good (although surgery would have cosmetic benefits.)  You definitely need an expert opinion about this.  I'd recommend that you consult an experienced ophthalmologist who specializes in strabismus (sometimes called a pediatric ophthalmologist, but they see adults, too.)  You could use the doctor directory at www.aao.org to find someone near you.

On the positive side, some ophthalmologists consider depth perception to be over-rated.  "(F)or the great bulk of everyday visual needs, it is a luxury; its absence would produce no momentous suffering nor any substantial void in our lives."  (Miller & Rubin, "The Fine Art of Prescribing Glasses Without Making a Spectacle of Yourself").  There are many visual cues which allow us to judge depth.  I don't know your profession, but if you have been performing it successfully for some time, perhaps your performance on the circles test isn't relevant to your ability to do your job.  Depending on the nature of your work and who you are working for, perhaps a statement from a board-certified ophthalmologist could be used to waive this requirement.    

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I was born with my right eye turned in, and although the cross-eye was corrected with glasses, I have lived my 60 years with extremely poor depth perception.  It is true that you can compensate by using visual cues, and do everything everybody else can -- but some decisions take much longer than for a person with good depth perception, and perhaps this impacts the job in question here. For example, driving a car is a lot of work requiring complete concentration and constant analyses and decisions. Usually I have to drive past a driveway and make note of landmarks: "The driveway is a few feet after the parked red car and immediately aftet the light pole but just before the black truck." Then I drive around the block and try it again, hoping the red car and black truck are still parked where they were on my first pass. Changing lanes on the freeway, I have to check many reference points multiple times until I'm positive it is safe, so sometimes I miss my exit and need to go back and do it again. This does not bother me, I'm used to it. I have never caused or been in an accident or gotten any tickets, but I plan time and a half for travel time and cannot chat while driving. Oh, and I can't walk down a staircase without touching a hand rail or the wall for reference, other things like that. I can understand how this necessary delay in reaction time while visual cues are gathered and processed could impact some jobs.  

Oddly, my new IOL from cataract surgery on my dominant left eye (not the eye that turned in) has made an enormous improvement in my depth perception. Driving is a million times easier for me now. I had no idea how much harder things were for me than most other people for driving, it is absolutely amazing to me.  
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