Optometry has a rich history. A history whose primary emphasis has been on helping people to improve their vision. We in Optometry are known as the Primary Eye Care Profession. Yet we realize that our eyes are only the sensory receptors and that vision is what occurs in the brain. So while the health and integrity of the eyes are essential to obtain vision, it is that process that occurs beyond the eyes…the visual brain that is the product of the care we provide our patients. Yes, all of us providing optometric care are dealing with elements of neuroplasticity of the visual brain…an aspect of care within the history of Optometry that we are just beginning to understand the role and impact on our patients.
Throughout human history the voyage of discovery has traversed new landscapes of land and sea. In the human quest for knowledge of planet Earth we have reached a point of understanding of nearly every corner of the terrestrial landscape.
If we look at planet Earth (excluding the atmosphere) there is essentially land and sea. Land is the physical terrain of which in the year 2010 human exploration has explored, documented and mapped nearly every square foot. The seas and oceans represent the largest area of the planet that is vast and much of it uncharted and unexplored. In the primary optometric eye care profession – most of what we do can be compared to the understanding that we have for the physical terrain – The Land.
However just like the seas and oceans that are critically important to life on planet Earth, it is this vast world under the sea that is for the most part, uncharted, not fully studied and misunderstood. Like the Sea is to planet Earth, the visual brain is critically important to our patient care and also largely uncharted, not fully studied and misunderstood…and yet those of us in Optometry who work with peds, binocular vision and vision therapy have been sailing these waters of neuroplasticity of the visual brain providing optometric vision care for our patients.
It was my pleasure to join with Dr. Susan Barry at a special lecture event held in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the St. Cecelia Music Center on September 17, 2010. This special occasion was entitled An Evening with Stereo Sue and was conducted as a fundraiser for the new Michigan College of Optometry Pediatric and Binocular Vision Unit in the new MCO Building at Ferris State University.
The title of my lecture was – Applying Neuroplasticity to Optometric Care– and you can download by clicking on the link below.
Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D.,FCOVD