Dr. Leonard Press – Lifelong Learning in Optometric Vision Therapy

May 29, 2019

In 1977 a book appeared with the intriguing title “Developmental Vision For Lifelong Learning”, written by R. C. Orem. Ostensibly an oxymoron, the implication was that vision development provided a platform that would serve the individual in a quest for learning throughout one’s lifetime. The Binovi Platform for optometric vision therapy activities, and the Sanet Seminar Educational Video Series, are two vehicles that will serve both you and your patients well in this regard, and we will be addressing both concepts in more detail in subsequent blogs.

We each have stories to tell about our vision quest – what attracted us to Optometry in general, and optometric vision therapy in particular. In my case it was literally growing up with Optometry in the house, my father having had an optometric office in our home located a stone’s throw from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Shortly after completing one of the first optometric residencies in Pediatric Optometry and Vision Rehabilitation, I embarked on a career that was largely a blend of academic and private practice, interspersed with interests in research and writing.

The early experiences that my good friend and colleague Dr. Robert Sanet shares are quite different. They include his own learning challenges as well as an acquired brain injury after a serious automobile accident just before his 20th birthday, both of which were tremendously aided by undertaking optometric vision therapy with Dr. Ralph Schrock. He is an exemplar of Orem’s principle that the development or rehabilitation of vision, no matter how or when it occurs, always provides opportunities for learning and growth.

Through the years I have had former VT patients, or parents of successful VT patients who were so moved by their experiences in therapy that they wanted to be apprenticed into our field. In turn, several of our therapists were so touched by their experiences with patients that they decided to become optometrists specializing in optometric vision therapy and neuro-optometric rehabilitation. Having been raised in this environment influenced my son, Dr. Daniel Press, to make his own mark on our profession.

What accounts for this incessant drive toward learning, and to become the best version of ourselves so that we can help our patients maximally? Perhaps the answer resides in the tale about an 18th century Chasidic Rabbi, Reb Zusha, who delivered this message to his students on his deathbed. “When I appear before the heavenly court, I have no fear about being asked why I became less of a scholar than Abraham. After all, I was not given his intellectual gifts. Nor would I have to plead my case for not having become a Moses, for I was not blessed with his leadership skills. But the one question I fear they may ask me, and for which I have no satisfactory answer, is why I didn’t live up to the potential of Zusha”.

In citing this tale, Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor of philosophy at New York University notes that many things will happen to you in the course of a lifetime, a good number of which will be a matter of sheer luck. But what will make your life a good one, along with luck, is a willingness to run with the opportunities that come your way. Consider, for example, the confluence of factors that resulted in the creation of Eyecarrot and the Binovi Platform. CEO Adam Cegielski’s introduction to vision therapy through his own family’s experiences. CTO Dr. Sam Mithani’s familiarity with vision therapy through the professional interests of his spouse. Videographer Joe Lia’s exposure to vision therapy having been a personal patient of Dr. Selwyn Super.

Over the course of the forty-two years since Orem’s book on developmental vision, optometric vision therapy has expanded considerably. It now comfortably encompasses sports vision, neuro-optometric rehabilitation, and myopia containment in addition to maintaining its roots in vision development and behavioral optometry. New knowledge involves a type of synaptic pruning during which we shed approaches that have not been as fruitful, or graft onto them procedures and technologies that help the field flourish.

The greatest utility of Binovi resides in its integration of experts, software, hardware and data. But expertise doesn’t reside in the capabilities of specific individuals. It emerges through a network of collaboration, which is what Dr. Sanet and I find particularly exciting. As the Binovi community grows, we are look forward to the opportunities to learn from you as much as you will learn from us. In turn, your patients will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

About Dr. Leonard Press, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO

Dr. Leonard Press is the Eyecarrot Director of Global Education and one of the foremost leaders in behavioural optometry worldwide, having written three major textbooks and currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of Vision Devlopment & Rehabilitation, the journal of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD). He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research, writing, and clinical work, having received the Skeffington Award for Excellent in Optometric Writing from COVD in 1992, among others. Dr. Press is currently President of Press Consulting, P.C., in Lakewood New Jersey. Read more here.

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