Over the summer, a friend of mine familiar with my strabismus, gave methe book, Survival of the Sickest, about why we have certain diseases, retroviruses and genetic disorders. The neurogeneticist author explains that blacks in the US have a tendency to sickle cell anemia because their blood chemistry is such that it prevented them from getting malaria in Africa but now makes them susceptible to sickle cell anemia. I think I told you about the example of why he thinks Type 1 diabetes is so prevalent in Scandinavia. He posits that those who could store more sugar during the Ice Age were more likely to survive and therefore passed on those sugar hoarding genes to the next generation. (Pardon my lay person’s dilution of medical terminology, but this is the way I understand it.)

So, this makes me think, why do 4-5% of the population have strabismus or amblyopia and no depth perception? What evolutionary benefit is there to have this segment of the population seeing flat? Back in the times of hunters and gatherers, having flat vision could keep people from being able to chase game and get food. Symmetry is supposed to be a marker of beauty and health. So, why have people with wandering eyes looking like freaks? The same question stands for why people have cleft palate and other deformities.

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2 responses »

  1. Jon Delano says:

    Some of us are attracted to people with lazy eyes (i.e. strabismus). I am one of those people. I personally think the eyes of people with strabismus (especially exotropia) are very beautiful.

    I don’t think it is freakish at all, and I wish society as a whole were more enlightened.

    Rene Descartes (French mathematician) claimed to be attracted to women with crossed eyes because he had a nurse in childhood who was cross-eyed, and she took very good care of him. He probably associated warmth and motherly affection with that lady, and thus with strabismus.

    • I so wish there were more people like you!

      The feeling of being a freak show is also a self-induced prophecy because if one has traumatic experiences as a kid of being made fun of, he/she may carry that stigma their whole lives and feel like a “broken” or “defective” person even if the people around him or her do not see that person as “less than”. When I lived in Bosnia, my best friend, Damir’s close childhood friend Amila could not keep one of her arms straight. It was always slightly bent. I never noticed it until my Damir told me. Unfortunately, Amila felt self conscious about her bent arm all the time. Our complexes may not bother others at all.

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