I am infuriated. Not having 3D vision is not just about not being able
to thread a needle well! We need to write to Prof. Margaret Livingstone
of Harvard Medical School so that she knows that she misrepresents the
problems associated with being stereoblind.
I doubt she intentionally meant to de-legitimize our plight, but she made our problems seem elementary in the BBC Forum radio piece called The Power of the Image. The Harvard Medical School neurobiologist explains that not seeing depth well can be an asset to artists. But, when she’s asked about how stereoblind people make it in life without binocular vision, she says that monocular people make more of monocular depth cues and don’t experience a deficit. According to her stereo-blind friend, they only have minor
problems, like not being able to thread a needle easily.
Beyond the driving, parking and sports issues, some people have major
difficulties reading that get them stuck in remedial classes in school
because their ophthalmologists don’t refer them to vision therapy to
remedy their eye coordination problems.
If threading a needle were the worst of our problems in flatland, then
few of the developmental optometrists would have a job and no one would
bother with vision therapy to gain 3D.
There’s a HUGE impact of Dr. Margaret Livingstone’s words. She is a
Harvard Medical School professor and says that not having binocular
vision is not a big deal. She teaches at one of the most prestigious
medical institutions in the world and her students may turn out to be
like the ophthalmologists many of us have dealt with that didn’t even
bother to tell us that we couldn’t see in 3D. They might not see it as
a problem and therefore not refer their patients to vision therapy or
tell their patients’ parents about the problems associated with being
I just wrote Dr. Livingstone a letter explaining how her one line about
being monocular being as minor as not being able to thread a needle
easily belittles our struggles as patients and the work of vision
therapists and developmental optometrists. She is also impacting future
I encourage others of you to listen to the radio piece on the BBC and
write to her as well, expressing your experiences being stereoblind, or
what your stereoblind kids go through or your work as doctors to the
If we want the medical establishment to take us seriously, we have to
stand up and tell them when they are wrong. I doubt she intentionally
meant to de-legitimize the plight of the monocular, but the impact of
her words was major and can affect many generations of doctors, parents
Here’s the link to the podcast that originally aired 25 June 2011:
Her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Her website is:
Please let me know if you do write to her and if she responds.