The first three verses of this immensely popular folk song were written by Pete Seeger in 1955. It was Joe Hickerson who added the additional verses in 1960 to turn it into a circular song. Each verse ends with the rhetorical question, when will they ever learn?
When you read through the comments of an earlier blog piece here you’ll be struck by the circularity of reasoning that is similarly recursive, and the conclusion is the same: when will they ever learn? The good news is that for many, though not all of the public the outcomes of the CITT study are leading more patients to the benefits of office-based optometric vision therapy. They are learning now. The bad news however is that many (though not all) patients who seek an opinion about CI from an ophthalmologist (self-described “Eye MDs“), will be left scratching their heads like Pete Seeger. What prompts me to say this? Reports from the source presented to me by my patients. Here is simply the most recent example given to me by a parent yesterday:
It turns out that this child, who is struggling considerably with reading, has a very classic convergence insufficiency. Sure enough, she has exophoria at near as detected by the Eye MD. In fact, she has 16 prism diopters of exophoria and a modest reserve to offset what would be double vision when reading if she didn’t work extremely hard to maintain single vision. Not surprisingly her parents indicate that reading is extremely fatiguing for their daughter, and she has all but given up. Not surprisingly, she grasps things very well when listening to someone else read.
So what guidance was this family given by the doctor? There is nothing to be done, because this condition has nothing to do with her reading problem. When the parents related that they had learned about vision therapy from some investigating they had done, and wanted to know this doctor’s opinion of it, the advice they got was the snake oil myth. Dismissively they were told that if they wanted to do something, they should do “pencil push-ups” with their daughter.
Odd, isn’t it? Here we have a professional claiming to be objective about optometric vision therapy, dispensing a placebo therapy for CI and trying to pull the wool over a parent’s eyes. When will they ever learn? The circularity must end now, and you – whether you are a vision specialist or a patient – will play a huge role. How?
I’m going to push you like my patients push me. As Peter Finch said in his starring role in the movie Network, I’m not going to leave you alone. Parents of children who succeed with vision therapy get mad when they think about MDs or educators who didn’t raise the option of looking into vision therapy – or worse, deterred them from considering vision therapy. To paraphrase Peter Finch, they want their child to be treated like a human being, whose life has value. You don’t have to go to the window and yell, but you should be mad as hell when you encounter this double standard. When you take action the children will blossom, the circularity will end, the Eye MDs will learn, and the double standard will end.
– Leonard J. Press, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO