The Daw of a New Era


NigelI have to confess that when the first edition of Nigel Daw’s Visual Development came out in 1995 I was a bit disappointed.  The book was devoid of the many contributions of Optometry to visual development.  A second edition came out in 2006, but still no mention of the role of Optometry.  Ah, but the 3rd edition in 2013 — Vive la difference!   In the preface to the first edition, Dr. Daw, Professor Emeritus of Ophthalmology and Neuroscience at Yale University, writes: “Not everyone will agree with my synthesis.  Some experts will read it and be outraged at some of my statements.  However, my outrageous statements were intended to be constructive.”  Dr. Daw was correct, and I was among those upset by what he omitted though hopeful that some day the record might be set straight.

That day has come.  In the preface to the third edition, regarding treatment of amblyopia Dr. Daw notes: “Use of perceptual learning and video games has helped by increasing activity and attention as the therapy is done.  Many of the principles have been employed by pediatric vision therapists for some time, but the publicity generated by “Stereo Sue” and others has helped to broadcast them.”  Amblyopia is now widely recognized as a binocular problem, and vision research is substantiating long-standing principles of optometric treatment.

LinerThe name Nigel Daw may be familiar to you if you recall having seen endorsements on the inside book jacket cover of Fixing My Gaze by Sue Barry.  The liner note reads:  “Magnificent…It is not yet clear what percentage of patients may be like Sue Barry, but Fixing My Gaze will encourage eye care practitioners to go ahead and find out, with definite benefits to their patients. Moreover, the book is fascinating reading.” —Nigel Daw, Professor Emeritus of Ophthalmology and Neuroscience, Yale University; author of Visual Development.  There’s a good chance that you have a sense of the impact Fixing My Gaze has made within the optometric vision therapy community.  You may not be as familiar with the impact that the story of Stereo Sue has made in other professional circles.  As you can see, Dr. Daw’s enthusiasm for Optometry in the 3rd edition of his book was heavily influenced by Professor Barry, as well as contributions from Dr. Paul Harris.

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I’ve previously written an essay in the Journal of Behavioral Optometry about how perceptual learning dovetails with principles of optometric vision therapy, gleaned from a trip to the annual meeting of the Vision Sciences Society.  Dr. Paul Harris, Dr. Sue Barry, and I share a bond through that meeting of the VSS where we interacted with authorities such as Dr. Daw.  We had the feeling back then that we might be embarking on a new era.  The 3rd edition of Visual Development lends substance to that feeling.

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