“Some of my patients have been told they’re crazy because they look fine, but they have all these symptoms,” Debby said. “People tell them they’re hypochondriacs because they’ve been sent to different doctors with no relief.”
The Internet has played a large role in helping Debby, Paul and Dubin find people with VH. “A lot of people Google their symptoms and up pops our Website with a list of symptoms and a possible explanation,” she said. On the Website, people who think they may have VH can fill out a questionnaire. The results are sent to Debby’s email, and she responds to each submission with a phone call.
Some of her patients are international and though it may seem like a long flight from Europe to Detroit, Debby said, “Wouldn’t it be worth it to you to make the trip if it meant you could be rid of your headaches, double vision, anxiety, dizziness?” If a patient is not from the area, she speaks to them at great length before they make the trip so she can be more certain she can help them.
The Process: “Debby spends as much time as it takes with each person,” said Forta. “She is so patient and gives everyone 100 percent of her attention. It’s evident that she cares about each patient and wants to help them.”
The initial visit takes two to three hours, as Debby spends an hour just talking to the patient so she can understand their history. She then has them try on “tester” prisms before fitting them for an official pair. The patient wears the tester pair in the office for a period of time “to make sure it works well for them before they leave,” Debby explained.
Often it only takes a patient 20 minutes to feel relief from their symptoms after trying on a prism. “It’s so gratifying to see a person lighten up and immediately start feeling better,” Paul said.
Because of a process called progressive relaxation, patients need to come in two weeks after their initial appointment because the eye muscles will have adjusted further. “We don’t start with a lot of prism,” Paul explained. “We start with a little bit to make sure it works and doesn’t overwhelm the eyes, and then we add more or take it away as they need.” Some patients need to come in for additional visits as their eyes adjust further.