Blog Post by Dr. Stacey Jones

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

“In life, we are often made to adapt by force when we do not learn to adapt with love. The current pandemic and world situations are teaching us the lesson with great intensity. The lesson is: change, or be changed….for the world will change us for sure.” Aruna ladva

I took a course in vision therapy over a year ago where my instructor told us the story of the Choluteca Bridge in Honduras. She used it as a metaphor for how we were taught about vision in optometry school and how change is difficult when it requires us to shift our way of thinking. Most of us think of vision as black and white, clear or blurry, 20/20 or worse. Eyesight gives us clarity, but vision gives us meaning. Each of us see things differently based on our experience. There are 100 million impulses received on the brain at any moment in time. Of these, 80% are received through the visual system. This has profound meaning for each of us as we grow and develop from infancy and why, truly, some of us do not always see eye-to-eye.

I thought about how this story is an appropriate metaphor for this past year, 2020, “the year of the optometrist”. This bridge stands out amongst all others because it was built to withstand storms as great as Hurricane Mitch in 1998. In that hurricane that ravaged Central America, 5600 people died and more than 12,300 were injured. Over 150 bridges in Honduras were destroyed while the Choluteca Bridge remained intact. After the hurricane, the problem was not with the bridge, it was with the river. The storm was so severe it actually shifted the river, which now flows around the bridge instead of under it. It is a very sturdy bridge to nowhere, without any useful function.

The Choluteca Bridge has often been used as a metaphor for life, because no matter how hard we try to perfect things in life, we also have to ensure that we are adaptable to life’s changing events. What is the point of a state of the art bridge which is now rendered useless? In the same manner, what is the point of us holding tight to our belief systems of the past? What beliefs are we holding onto today, which simply do not serve us or anyone else? We need to ensure we remain flexible, for if we aren’t, our peace and happiness are disrupted. Change will affect our lives just like any storm. Today we have all experienced the impact of a global virus. Everyone has has found themselves having to adapt, willingly or not, to the impact of this change.

Nature has taught us that we have to change and adapt to survive. For many of us, this time has been an opportunity to reconsider meaning and purpose in our lives. Similarly, in vision therapy, we are teaching patients and their loved ones how to see life differently. As I often say, “we aren’t just changing the eyes, but we are changing brains.