Just got back from Oliver Sacks’s lecture at the American Museum of Natural History tonight. It was a packed house at 77th and Columbus, and Oliver did not disappoint. First of all, I have to tell you that this is the first time we attended a lecture of this nature in the Museum’s auditorium, and it is drop dead gorgeous with great acoustics.
Oliver began with brief personal background, but I daresay that everyone in attendance was already well aware of his resume. He quickly got into the substance of The Mind’s Eye. He noted at the outset that it’s generally not a good idea for a doctor to take on friends as patients, but it’s very rewarding for doctors to become friends with patients that they care for. This is a particularly luxury that a celebrated neurologist has, who takes on a limited number of patients. Yet Sacks was clear that he never accepts seeing a patient with the idea that they are going to going to become an interesting case study to write about.
I was particularly pleased that Oliver spent a significant portion of his talk on the experiences of Stereo Sue. As many times as we’ve been exposed to Sue Barry’s story, it’s still a joy to think of the significance of the collaboration that she first undertook with her developmental optometrist, Dr. Theresa Ruggiero, and subsequently with Dr. Oliver Sacks.
Wish I had known that there was going to be a live steam of the video tonight, but I can tell you now that the AMNH is going to put the video on its YouTube channel later this week. I’ll give you a heads-up on that when that’s posted. Bottom line is that Oliver was clear that the key to Sue’s outcome was that she saw a behavioral optometrist, and that her experience was so compelling that they agreed that there must be thousands of other people out there like her who should be given the option of undertaking vision therapy.
Oliver was struggling with his vision (he shared with the audience that he is now totally blind in his right eye), his hearing, and his gait, but his mind is as sharp as ever and his message remains a strong counterbalance to misinformation about vision therapy.
- Leonard J. Press, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO