Jan. 21, 2014
Optometry alumnus brings vision therapy to life in new novel.
An expert in vision therapy, David Cook OD ’78 explores the world of “seeing” in a new novel, The Anatomy of Blindness.
The book is what Cook calls “a spiritual adventure story” about a behavioral optometrist who joins a consulting group. The group is a front for an alternative religious group. The novel bills itself as “a profound exploration of skepticism, spiritually and the high price of eternity.”
Cook, who has specialized in vision therapy since studying optometry at Pacific University, said there is an analogy between vision therapy and the book’s description of a mythical life. Both are involved in “seeing” the world in different ways.
Vision therapy, in lay terms, can be described as a type of physical therapy that helps people develop or improve fundamental vision skills and change how they process visual information. A variety of vision problems, such as eye movement disorders, misalignment of the eyes, focus problems, and visual information processing, can be aided with the therapy.
For instance, Cook said, a person who can’t see “normally” because his eyes aren’t working together may be aided with glasses or therapy, so that the eyes actually do work together — and as a result, this person sees the world in a new way.
For Cook, who has published three books on vision therapy for the lay audience, as well as numerous articles for scholarly journals, his novel also is about “seeing” life differently.
The history of science provides an example of different ways of looking at the world, he said.
“Newton looked at the world as an absolute,” he said. “Einstein came along with a different way of looking things. That’s a paradigm change — so my novel is really about paradigm change, seeing the world in one way, then seeing the world in a different way.”
Cook majored in English as an undergraduate at UCLA with an interest in pre-health courses. He said he thought about going into journalism but decided to apply to Pacific’s optometry program and was accepted. But even as an optometry student, he continued writing.
During his second year at Pacific, he had classes with Professor William Ludlum, now deceased, who was a nationally noted optometrist involved in vision therapy. The stories Ludlum presented in his classes intrigued Cook.
“He didn’t speak about conditions,” Cook said. “He spoke about the people he worked with who had conditions. I was so interested I put aside all my writing and volunteered 10 hours a week in the vision therapy clinic.”
By the time he graduated, Cook had worked more than 300 hours in the vision therapy clinic and was given the opportunity to go to State University of New York for a yearlong post-graduate residency in the field.
Since then he has been in private practice and owns Cook Vision Therapy Center in Marietta, Ga. He is a member of several national and international optometric organizations and often lectures throughout the United States. He will speak at the Northwest Congress of Optometry, Feb. 22-23, at Pacific University.