Everything in The Mind’s Eye involves the human body’s complex process for collecting and processing visual input. In other words, The Mind’s Eye is about seeing, or not seeing, or seeing but not understanding what you see.
Dr. Sacks covers both clinical cases in a story format (as he is wont to do) and the story of losing the eyesight in one of his eyes in this book.
Of the two topics, he is unsurprisingly more adept at presenting the clinical cases. When he’s writing about others, his style is interspersed with research examples, quotes from the patient, etc.
When he writes about his own experience losing the eyesight in one eye due to a tumor, much of the presentation is in a diary format, and he often repeats himself. The research is still present, but it’s overwhelmed by the volumes of detail about his personal experience.
Despite the abrupt change in tone and style, the information is still excellent, his content is still understandable (although possibly it helps that I’m a bit of a science and medicine wonk) and his structure still holds up.
Had he ended the book on his experience, it would have fallen flat, but the last chapter of the book (also called “The Mind’s Eye”) discusses how blind people process information and the wide variation in how we think and visualize what we know. It’s the book’s saving grace and a strong weapon against the ableist tendency to assume that all blindness is like wearing a blindfold, and that all blind people experience blindness the same way.
Because of this last chapter, I’m able to look at my own work in web design with a new approach, and that has made all the difference.