You and I could walk down the same street, at the same time, and see entirely differently things. You might watch the beautiful, bright red cardinal sitting on the tree branch, while I focus on the sad, neglected dog trapped alone behind the fence.
We’ve both taken the same walk but, because of what we see, we experience that walk differently.
The way we experience the world is unique to each of us, but one thing is generally true of our vision: people see the world in 3-D. People see dimensions and depth around them.
Most people, that is.
I recently went to my eye doctor for my routine visit. I have a lot of fluctuation in my vision due to neurological damage from chronic Lyme disease, which makes eye exams a challenge. To give you an example, on my prior visit I had 20/30 vision and my doctor thought I might need glasses for distance. I told him I was just having a bad Lyme day. At this past visit, my vision was 20/20. The Lyme wasn’t messing with my distance vision that day.
My doctor and I were discussing this, and I mentioned my inability to perceive depth. I had to stop driving a decade ago because I cannot properly judge where I am on the road in comparison to other cars. My primary doctors, neurologist, and Lyme specialists were all at a loss to explain this. In fact, a few of my past doctors looked at me as if I needed a padded cell. My eye doctor is fairly new to me, and I’d never mentioned my issue with depth perception. To be honest, I was tired of being treated like a crazy lady.
But my eye doctor is very cool and also very smart. He gave me a pair of 3-D glasses to put on, then handed me a laminated card with five rows of images. He asked which images popped out at me. I stared at the card. They were just flat images and nothing “popped” out. I kept studying the card. He asked what I saw. I told him a cartoon image of a man, a dog, etc. “Nothing pops out?” he asked. Finally, after at least three full minutes of staring at the stupid card, I was able to see that one image did in fact ‘pop’. It was in 3-D. As it turned out, there were five images in 3-D, one on each line. I didn’t see them. According to my doctor, people with normal depth perception see them all instantly.
My eyes are healthy. My eye doctor could find no reason for my lack of depth perception. The problem is certainly neurological, as I’d been trying to tell my other doctors. Finally, one listened. Of course, he’s not a neurologist and can’t help me. But he did confirm what I’d known all along: I see the world in two dimensions.
I’m not sure when this happened. It had to be a gradual decline; something I adjusted to as my vision changed. Until I could no longer adjust and the depth simply disappeared. Some days I do see some depth. Other days, most days, my world is oddly flat. People look like those Flatsy dolls I used to play with when I was a kid.
I know this quirk has nothing to do with my eyes. In fact, our eyes have nothing to do with our 3-D vision. Our brains are responsible for that. The separate image each eye sends to our brain is then interpreted to give us depth, which is called stereoscopic vision. Apparently, my stereo has switched to mono.
An interesting note: Most predators have stereoscopic vision, which allows them to properly gauge the distance to their prey. Most herbivores do not have stereoscopic vision. I’m a vegetarian. Perhaps my brain is evolving to accommodate my switch from a predatory upbringing to a herbivore adulthood.
Alas, I know a lot of vegetarians with normal vision, so eating a steak is not likely to fix my vision. I’d probably just throw up.
Maybe this oddity is why I love my fictional worlds so much. When I read or write, depth and dimensions are no longer a factor. I ‘see’ the world as it’s created, with all the peaks and valleys.
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.
~ Lord Alfred Tennyson
Thanks for reading.
Tags: 3-D Vision, chronic lyme, Complications of Lyme Disease, Depth Perception, Late-Stage Lyme Disease, lyme disease, Neurological Disorders, Problems With Depth Perception, Stereoscopic Vision, Vegetarian Authors, Vegetarians