Thinking About Dr. Louis Jaques


I was surprised and delighted to received this very special stereoscope card in the mail yesterday from a very special colleague and friend. You can probably do free space fusion to converge and see Louis’ hand extend toward you in friendship, from a gentleman who referred to himself as “Dad” in our profession for the better part of the last century. He was iconic in California where he practiced. The reverse of the card carries these holiday greetings:

Louis Jaques is best known for introducing binasal occlusion to the profession. It wasn’t in his first book which was published in 1936 and titled Fundamental Refraction and Orthoptics, but it was in his second one titled Corrective and Preventive Optometry published in 1950. As Dr. John Tassinari noted in his seminal article on the subject in the first issue of JBO, he referred to the tapes (which he did with black electrical tape) as bimedial covers and binocular-monocular macular covers. Dr. Steve Gallop elaborated further on the range of uses for binasal occlusion. Dr. Alissa Proctor was among the first to advance the application of binasal occlusion in TBI, and most recently Posvar and colleagues elaborated on the use of binasals for visual motion hypersensitivity as originally introduced by Ciuffreda and colleagues.

Dr. Jaques no doubt would have derived much satisfaction in seeing the traction that binasals have gained around the world. An article was published last year in the Chinese Journal of Optometry, Ophthalmology and Visual Science titled Effect of Binasal Occlusion in Children with Concomitant Esotropia which demonstrated that binasal occlusion can effectively assist the treatment of concomitant esotropia in children to a statistically significant level.

8 thoughts on “Thinking About Dr. Louis Jaques

  1. Dr. Jaques spoke at Pacific University while I was a student there, probably around 1976, He was in his eighties. He began with a story that commanded my complete attention. It was not until the last sentence of the story that I realized we were not hearing a true story but an off-color joke. Hearty laughter followed as all realized they had been duped. Dr. Jaques certainly had a twinkle in his eye and unbounded enthusiasm for our profession. He was adamant that we charge, not by time, but by what our services are worth, and he believed that we were worth a whole lot more than those making a living off of refraction. More than enthusiastic about black-electrical-tape binasal occlusion, he was a remarkable speaker and presence.

  2. I had the pleasure of meeting Louie several times when I was in California. He made a habit of calling any new young Dr. in Don Getz and Gary Etting’s practice to talk to them about binasals. I think the first time I met him was at an OEP study group. George Ariyasu brought him and introduced him to me. Several days later I got a call in the office from him asking me to have lunch with him because he had this new way of treating strabismus patients that he wanted to tell me about. When I told Don and Gary about the call they laughed and told me what it was about. Anyway, I remember brown bagging lunch with him and Gary in Balboa Park and discussing binasals with him. Another memory is of him at a lecture that Hydrocurve contact lenses was giving when they were introducing the first toric soft lens. He was in the room and dozing off and then all of a sudden he woke up when the lecturer mentioned something of the fact that the torics would only correct axis 90 and 180 and with limited cylinder power. He raised his hand and said something like “that’s horse___”. He was a strict believer in fulling correcting cylinder and couldn’t believe that they were selling a lens that wouldn’t do that. I also remember him telling me that he was one of the first OD’s to charge a fee for service, and he made sure that the fee was higher than anyone else’s, when others started charging for services. He would tell patient’s that his fee was higher than anyone else’s and say to the patient “why do you think that is?”. He was certainly a character. Well into his 90’s when I met him but sharp as a knife. I’m sure Gary Etting has some other stories about Louie that would be priceless. Enjoy the slide, Len it is certainly a treasure!

    • Thanks so much for sharing that first person account, Stu! Here are some thoughts that Gary related:

      “I saw Louis once/month at our OEP study group meetings (I would pick him up ) and many times for lunch where he promised me news of a great clinical tool: always binasal. He claimed they solved all problems because there was “only one eye to the brain.” He had a custom septum made for his phoropter, as well as a nearpoint card with 2 charts (one on each side) where he did binocular refraction at near for all patients. It was very commonplace for him to prescribe moderate adds i.e. +1.00 to +1.50. He always believed in demos and did a n activity like the Brock Posture Board to explain a binocular problem … I visited his office the last day he practiced. He was 86 or 87 and saw probably 15 patients. He was a stickler for adjusting the glasses well. He typed his findings on a typewriter adjacent to the phoropter. He claimed that he was one of the first ODs in the state to charge a professional fee for an exam. While my memories of the encounter with Skeffington have faded, I think he told me that Skeff and he had a falling out over what their roles would be in the profession. Louis had children (sons) and one grandchild that were optometrists I think. He was passionate about his profession.”

  3. I was not fortunate enough to meet Dr. L. Jacques, but I did some eye movement testing on his grand-daughter, an optometry student at the time, in the mid-1970s while a graduate student at Berkeley. Yes, binasals are such an integral part of neuro-optometry and certain binocular vision dysfunctions, and beyond. KEN

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