Susan Barry by Rosalie Winard

Susan R Barry Ph.D.

Eyes on the Brain

When Doctors and Patients Talk

Online discussion forums where doctors and patients talk.

Posted Mar 26, 2011

Recently, I read a paper about a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this study, the effect of the treatment was tested by monitoring the patients' heart rate and skin conductance as they listened to a re-telling of the traumatic event that had caused their PTSD. The retelling would normally cause the patient's heart rate and skin conductance to soar, but with the treatment, these effects were not seen. These were impressive results, but I was still bothered by the paper. Nowhere in the article were the patients' subjective experiences reported. Did the patients feel less anxious when hearing the story after the treatment than they had before? I realize that subjective experiences are hard to measure and are often considered unreliable. But the point of the study was to change the patients' reactions to the memory of a traumatic event. Wouldn't it be good to know what the patients felt?

A doctor must weigh the evidence from clinical tests and a patient's subjective reports in making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment. It may be difficult to reach the right balance especially with the limited time that clinicians normally have to meet with their patients. The doctor that struck the best balance for me was my developmental optometrist who considered both my vision tests and my descriptions of my vision in her treatments for me. I was cross-eyed since the first months of life and had undergone three surgeries and many doctor's visits before I met her. She was the first eye doctor that I ever consulted who asked me up front what I'd like to be able to do with my vision that I couldn't already do, and she was the doctor who taught me how to straighten my eyes and see in 3D.

So, I am delighted to describe a website,, that provides dicussion forums for optometrists and patients. There's even a specific discussion forum for adults with strabimsus. Once you sign in, you can access a great deal of information on and discussions about binocular vision, strabismus, and other vision disorders. You will also find links to blogs by other patients undergoing optometric vision therapy.

It is isolating to have a vision problem that most people don't understand. With websites like, no patient should have to confront their vision problems alone.

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