Although Dr. Barry was cross-eyed since early infancy and had three eye muscle surgeries to straighten her eyes, she had “20/20” vision. This meant that she could see the letters on the eye chart that you are supposed to see from a distance of 20 feet. Everyone assumed that meant she had perfect vision. Yet, when she tried to read, the words appeared to her to move on the page.
Thus, she had trouble learning to read and had great difficulty with standardized tests. If it were not for heroic steps taken by her mother to help her learn to read, Dr. Barry would not have succeeded in school and in her career.
It wasn’t until Dr. Barry went through a program of optometric vision therapy as an adult that she understood why the words appeared to move on the page when she was in grade school. Even though her eyes looked straight, she had a binocular vision problem. Her eyes were not aligned properly, which means they didn’t point at the same letters on the page the way they are supposed to when she tried to read.
As students are going back to school across the U.S. the stakes are higher than ever. Standardized tests determine not only the students’ achievement, but the teachers’ and the schools’. Everyone is being graded. Yet, we are still using an archaic system to measure how well children see and telling them that their vision is fine. The standard school vision screening – reading a letter chart positioned 20 feet away with one eye at a time – does not examine how well a child can read at close range using the two eyes together.
It is Dr. Barry’s hope that by writing her book and sharing her story she can help millions of children.
Find out what you can do to ensure your child has all the visual skills required for academic success.
In honor of August being National Children’s Vision and Learning month, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development is sponsoring this FREE 30 minute interview with Dr. Barry on line, “School Crossings: A Neurobiologist’s View of How Our System Fails Children With Vision Problems.” This meeting is open to parents and educators across the U.S. as well as the media. It will be held on Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 9 pm, EDT.
About Susan R. Barry
Susan R. Barry received her Ph.D. in biology from Princeton University and is a professor of neurobiology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College. She speaks regularly to scientists, eye doctors, and educators on the topic of neuronal plasticity. She has been featured on NPR and in a New Yorker article by renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks entitled “Stereo Sue.” She and her husband have two grown children and live in South Hadley, Massachusetts.Visit Sue Barry’s personal website at www.stereosue.com.