“Fixing My Gaze” by Susan R. Barry

Subtitle: A Scientist’s Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions

Recommended to me by: jesse-the-k (in a locked post)

This book was a revelation for me. At last, a book for which I am the perfect target audience! Susan R. Barry writes about the experience of having crossed eyes since infancy, and thus lacking stereoscopic (3-D) vision. After practicing a series of vision therapy exercises prescribed by an optometrist, she gains stereoscopic vision.

In addition to the convenience of being able to judge distances easily, she feels a part of the world she can see all around her rather than an observer of the world “out there.” She looks at the spaces between leaves with fascination. The steering wheel of her car “pops out” at her rather than appearing flat against the dashboard. Astonishing!

In addition to describing her experiences of monocular and binocular vision, she covers the neuroscience of vision, and the possible explanation for her ability to regain stereoscopic vision more than 40 years after the “critical period” of early childhood.

I also have slightly crossed eyes and lack stereoscopic vision. I believe I lost the ability around 4-5 years of age. I would love to get it back!

As both a memoir and a scientific overview, this book worked well for me. Because the author was present with her story, I felt included as well.

The only downside was the casual reference to animal experimentation. “Of course they can’t experiment on humans – so they harmed monkeys and cats instead!” (paraphrase) As much as I enjoyed the book, I almost stopped reading there.

Nevertheless, highly recommended.

fixingmygaze.com has a good resources section.

Available at Powell’s Books.

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