*** Fixing my Gaze by Susan Barry

Susan Barry is quoted in The Mind’s Eye as an interesting patient, so I picked up her book, Fixing My Gaze, with interest — and I was not disappointed. As a neuroscientist who grew up with crossed eyes, she knew that she did not have 3D vision (although she compensated very well for it) but she also believed that she was stuck with a flat world — until she retrained herself with the help of a skilled optometrist vision therapist and one day, pow, her steering wheel popped up from the dash.

I loved the story because it’s inspiring, of course, but also because the author does a great job of describing what she could see before and after the training, reminding me of my own amazement at discovering at age 12 that trees actually had individual leaves, not the harmoniously smudged, impressionistic greenness that was there before my near-sighted eyes received corrective lenses.  She discusses her neurons a bit, with the predictable overwhelm for non-technical readers, but she mostly sticks to excellent drawings of how the optical illusion of 3D exists in the first place, so it’s not a difficult book at all. And it made me think about how we just take our senses for granted, and how other people may have been puzzled by her terrible driving when she simply could not see very well.  If she could have had a native French speaker double-check the one French quote she uses, it would have been perfect!

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