There’s an old line in our profession about an Optometrist who visited a long-standing patient on his deathbed. The aged and infirm gentleman opened his eyes and in a barely audible voice whispered: “So tell me Doc, before I go – which one was better, number one or number two?”
One of the best neuro-ophthalmologic writers beyond conventional textbooks and articles is Christian Wertenbaker, who writes essays for Parabola Magazine – and while he doesn’t explore the great philosophical question of which is better one or two, he does tackle the challenge of merging the objective and the subjective.
Dr. Wertenbaker’s essays in Parabola have been packaged into a paperback titled: “Man in the Cosmos: G.I. Gurdjieff and Modern Science“. From the introduction: “Because science deliberately tries to be objective and to remove the subjectivity of the observer from its deliberations, its findings may only apply to the external world, leaving the inner world of conscious beings to another realm of inquiry.”
The difference between the objective and subjective visual states is taught to every Optometry student during “Methods Labs” either in the first or second year of their graduate program. It is no secret that clinical refraction is a relative strength of Optometry in the eye care field, and my co-lecturer at Dr. D. Leonard Werner and I spent a semester each year instilling the art of balancing the objective with the subjective to our SUNY students. This culminated in a textbook that he and I co-authored on the subject.
Around the same time as the publication of our book, disruptive innovations were taking place in Ophthalmology in the early 2000s. How might this impact impact refractive care? Here is an interesting quote about disruptive refractive technology in a recent issue of Optometry Times from Vitor Pamplona, PhD, CTO and co CEO of EyeNetra, a Smart Phone based refractive system:
“Dr. Pamplona makes the analogy that optometry will not go the way of typists, disappearing completely as technology evolved. Instead, he sees it going the way of photographers.
Photographers used to be chemists who knew how to mix the chemicals needed to develop a photo. Then, the profession moved to those who had the most expensive equipment. Now, everyone has devices with cameras, and yet photography is a bigger industry than ever.
‘People pay for the artist—they’re not paying for the device or the mechanism,’ he says. ‘This is exactly what optometrists are—they are artists. Even with refraction, they will always be better than any machine out there.'”
The art of the science …