Strabismus in the shadows

photo of me in shadowsMost of my life I’ve tried to avoid letting others see me with my eyes drifted, though I’ve often not been successful. It’s never been a major issue for me, as my biggest concern has been the vision disturbances caused by strabismus.

But I’ve talked to others with strabismus who are devastated by their turned eyes. Their stuggle is real. A study published on Pub Med found that:

Overall, the strabismic faces were judged significantly more negatively…. Strabismus creates a significant negative social prejudice. These biases can have a detrimental impact on socialization and employability.

Many are not even granted job interviews, because we are naturally drawn to attractive people and turned off by unattractive ones. When they do get hired, it is for less pay according to research published recently by The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:

…the “plainness penalty” is 9 percent and that the “beauty premium” is 5 percent after controlling for other variables, such as education and experience. In other words, a person with below-average looks tended to earn 9 percent less per hour, and an above-average person tended to earn 5 percent more per hour than an average-looking person.

Links to the items quoted above are at the bottom of this post.

If the “plainness penalty” is 9 percent, what would the “strabismus penalty” be? For most people, strabismus is worse than “plain.” Many would even call it worse than “ugly.” Several times, I’ve heard someone with strabismus say, “Why was I born a freak?” Think about how you felt when you first saw someone with a badly turned eye. When our eye is turned, we often appear to be looking over your shoulder. A badly turned eye makes us look so–dare I say repulsive?

Yet when we can hold our eyes together, we are not that unattractive. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to keep my eyes together much of the time. But many of my friends can’t.

Originally this page was called “Strabismus out of the shadows.” I had some photos online to try to help. While I’m not especially attractive, I’m not unattractive either when my eyes are together. Most times I can keep my eyes together, but when I tire one or the other of my eyes will drift outward. The photos showed me with my eyes together, and also some of the drifts. This was an effort to help people try to see a person whose eyes are permanently drifted as if their eyes were together.

But I’ve gone back in shadow. Sorry, the photos that were originally linked to this page have been taken down. I guess I’m more sensitive than I’d realized about my eyes. It bothered me that most people skipped this page and went straight to the photos. They saw my photos as an interesting show and missed the whole point.

Point is, next time you see a person with a turned eye, try to imagine their face relaxed, with both eyes together. Most likely you will see a kind expression and tender heart behind that face. Please look beyond our eyes, and try to see who we really are.

See The negative psychosocial impact of strabismus in adults for the Pub Med abstract.

See the full Federal Reserve Bank report here:
So Much for That Merit Raise: The Link between Wages and Appearance.

Photo “Me in shadows” copyright Lois Turley, all rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “Strabismus in the shadows”

  1. I had strabismus as long as I can remember. To be quite frank it is hell. I have had two surgeries and it was undercorrected both times. The second time my father forced me to run on a treadmill two days after. I still look down on my parents for that. My family says that me wanting a third surgery is against God. Sometimes I do not want to live I don’t want to live like this anymore. I am getting a third surgery even if I have to go it alone

  2. Some have been helped with three or more surgeries. I’m assuming you are an adult and able to make your own decisions now. God will show you what he has for you at this time in your life.

    You would be welcome at our Strabismus Hope email support group. That is a group that provides support from a Christian perspective, and the folks there will encourage and support you. No need to “go it alone.”

    You might also like our Eyes Apart support group. It is a more general group for those who prefer strabismus support that is not based on any religious preference. You are welcome at either of both of these groups, and will find others who have experienced things similar to what you have felt.

    For more about these support groups, see:

  3. I am twenty years old and I live in a very strict household. So it is quite hard to do what I want. This is going to be hard. I am so happy that I havefound this website!!!

  4. Yes it is hard, the whole strabismus thing is hard. But we can do it, and be even better for the struggles we face.

    I can’t say whether having another surgery is right for you or not. But God will help you find the way for what he has for you if you ask him.

  5. Lois,

    Thinking of you and sending you good wishes from my heart.

    in gratitude,
    Anthony D’Agostino

  6. Anthony, so good to hear from you! Hope you are well. Thanks for the good wishes, and I will plan to get an email out to you soon! 🙂

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