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Another Optometrist With A Famous Patient: Dr. Robert A. Kraskin

Another Optometrist With A Famous Patient: Dr. Robert A. Kraskin

My last post (about a well-known sports figure and vision therapy) got me thinking about another famous patient. This one was seen by optometrist, Dr. Robert A. Kraskin back in the early 1960s. This patient was not an athlete or movie star, but was very well-known nonetheless. This young lady had, at the age of 16, become so frustrated with school that she was ready to drop out. On November 22, 1963, while she was in Dr. Kraskin’s office, her father, under very unfortunate circumstances, became President of The United States. The patient’s name was Luci Johnson, daughter of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

I first met Dr. Kraskin during my second year in optometry school. He was teaching an elective course on Behavioral Optometry along with another early pioneer, Dr. Harold Wiener. These two men were classmates at the Pennsylvania State College of Optometry, class of 1950. Both men were outstanding clinicians who were always ready to share their knowledge. I was fortunate to spend quality time with both gentlemen during my time as a student and then as a newly minted practitioner of optometry according to the behavioral model of vision.

Unfortunately we lost Dr. Kraskin in 1996. I was amazed and deeply touched by the eulogy delivered by Luci Johnson - over forty years after her time as Dr. Kraskin’s vision therapy patient. She spoke glowingly of her memories of Dr. Kraskin and of her life-changing experience with vision therapy. Later that day I had the great pleasure of speaking with Luci, who offered up more fond memories of the Kraskins. The vision therapy room, run by Dr. Kraskin, his wife Marion and his son, Dr. Jeffrey Kraskin, was wonderful to watch.

The Optometric Extension Program Foundation created an educational pamphlet featuring the words of Ms. Johnson, reprinted from a piece she wrote in FAMILY CIRCLE magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

My father certainly had the desire and the means to have my health problems diagnosed and treated. And yet, I had a major visual problem that went undetected for many years. I came from a family of achievers and worked diligently at school, but no matter how hard I tried, I found it impossible to rise from C to even a C+. not only were my academic abilities affected, but because my eyes did not work well together, my total coordination was poor. And because I was physically uncoordinated, I was inevitably the last choice for team games throughout my childhood.

This is an amazingly common story. A bright child struggles with school and often with play as well. Maybe the child finds a way to push through and succeed. More often, the child continues to struggle, falls farther and farther behind. Without a solution the child may lose self esteem and give up. Then the options for where their lives might go become limited. It doesn’t have to be this way, especially if it is a visual problem at the root of the difficulty.

Luci eventually spent time as both patient and assistant in the Kraskins’ office. Thanks to vision therapy optometrists change lives, not just of the well-to-do or the well-known, but the lives of people from all walks of life, of all ages and all across the globe.

Next time: Optometrists Change Lives

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