The last time I saw my ophthalmologist he told me that some parents don’t want their little children get surgery to correct their crossed eyes.

He said that despite what he explains about the difficulties their children may have in the future due to their misaligned eyes, parents are too afraid of the possible side effects, scar tissue and anaesthesia.

“They should also consider how their child will feel looking like a freak show.” I said.

“Yes, doctor. I can say this because I am your patient. I understand you can’t use that kind of language.”

The truth is that I did feel like a freak show for almost half of my life because of my eyes. Until I was three, my eyes were crossed. After that, I had a lazy eye until I was 17.

Whenever I see someone who is cross eyed or has a wandering eye, I want to run up to them to tell them about possible surgery. But I realize that the subject may be that person’s Achilles Heal, like it is mine. I can’t just bring up the topic in public, I have to approach it delicately in private. I want to save other people the humiliation I felt throughout my childhood and adolescence.
I skimmed through a study about the psychological effects of strabismus where the majority of adults with strabismus responded that they would prefer to shorten their life span if they could get rid of their strabismus. I cried when I read it, admitting to myself that I’d take years off my life if I could erase all the pain, humiliation, and limited vision related to my condition.

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2 responses »

  1. george Alexanian says:

    I have had strabismus since I was 2 years old. I was teased as a child, then mostly visually ignored (no eye to eye contact) as an adult. My right eye had drifted out 45 diopters. In Oct 08, at 62 years of age, I could not take it anymore. If I could not look at myself in the mirror, how could I expect others to look at me? I had a good surgeon, and I was lucky. When I see others, I want to both scream at them to do it, but then I remember that I probably did not want others to point out my condition (Achille’s heel as you put it). I think these types of forums are a great way to share experiences, feelings, and encouragement to others. I wish I had found this type of support long ago, it would have made a difference in my decision to do the procedure sooner.

    • Yes! I so wish I had other people to talk to as a kid when I was going through this. My two aunts also have strabismus but they were living in another country until I was a teenager. Even when they came to the US, I didn’t talk to them about it until I was an adult. I wonder if my ability to “hide” myself and feel invisible even though I currently have cosmetically straight eyes comes from my early years of feeling like a freak.

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