Susan R. Barry, Professor of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts talks about “Fixing My Gaze.”
“For most of my life, the last place I wanted to be was an eye doctor’s office. I had been cross-eyed since infancy, and despite three surgeries, remained cross-eyed and stereoblind. Scientific dogma indicated that my visual deficits resulted from changes in brain circuitry that occurred in infancy and could not be reversed in adulthood. So, when I finally consulted a developmental optometrist and began optometric vision therapy at age
48, I took a significant risk. I had to think beyond the conventional wisdom, abandon old visual habits, and master skills that most children acquire within the first six months of life. As I began to straighten my eyes and see in 3D, I learned that the adult brain is indeed capable of significant plasticity. Rewiring in the adult brain requires the presence of novel and behaviorally relevant stimuli, the conscious abandonment of entrenched habits, and the establishment, through intense practice, of new ones.