Social confidence with lazy eyes

friendly talkThe following item is edited from a letter posted by shayla last month in our Eyes Apart Strabismus Support group. It’s hard for some people to accept being referred to as having “lazy eyes.” We know that strabismus eyes work much harder than normal eyes. Shayla used this term about herself with confidence, and she offers the tips below to help us all be more confident with our drifting eyes:

I think you can be socially confident with lazy eyes. I know I am. It’s actually a joke in my family how quickly I can strike up a conversation. I had a great example in my Mom, who also had alternating exotropia for close to forty years before she had surgery.

The only place she wasn’t confident was sports and my dad made sure that I learned how to adjust instead of just avoiding sports. I did debate and theatre in high school and just finished a play’s run in community theatre this week. I just just tell people to look at my right eye if they keep looking over their shoulder! I knew my eyes were off but wasn’t really diagnosed until 17.

It’s funny because today I go in to have surgery. My husband was asking me did I think it would make me more outgoing? My sis was like “hello! girl already talks to complete strangers everywhere we go!

My advice:

  • Preempt strangers who are looking at you. A quick explanation will stop the weird looks most of the time.
  • Family/Friends: If their joking really bothers you, say something! They may have no idea you feel the way you do.
  • Pictures: You have to ask the person taking the picture to help you out with this. You look away from the camera and then right before they snap the picture look back at the camera. Your eyes will appear straight in the picture (but it takes a couple of times to get the timing down so be patient). I’ve done this with lots of pictures and it seems to work. Or turn at an angle to the camera so you are not face forward to the camera. Models do it, so why can’t we?

All these things have one thing in common: You have to be pro-active and be ready and willing to talk about the condition and your feelings about it. If you aren’t comfortable with yourself, other people won’t be. I make a joke of it: “My name is shayla and pay no attention to that left eye wandering around the room!” Find out what your comfort level is and maybe try it out on friends and family first.

If you don’t know if it’s wandering, watch people for non verbal cues like for example: looking behind them like they think you are talking to someone else usually means eyes are wandering. My best friend will notice if I switch eyes before I realize it myself.

I hope these will work for you.They’ve worked for me for 29 years and counting..(only hours left though!)

–used by permission from shayla

[Lois’ note: I realize many of you did not have parents or family who supported you as shayla’s family did. Perhaps they even pulled you down. But rather than regret what we didn’t have as we grew up, why not work on some of the recommendations shayla offers to make things better now?]

Photo credit: Mikas Vitkauskas

113 thoughts on “Social confidence with lazy eyes”

  1. Dutches, I suggest you consult an eye surgeon and see what can be done today. You might also consult a Behavioral Optometrist. These doctors can do vision therapy. It won’t hurt to talk with these two specialists so you can make an informed decision of whether or not to pursue surgery or vision therapy. You can also join our Eyes Apart email Strabismus Support group at Yahoo. you’ll find others with similar situations there. Just click the purple box near the top of the sidebar.

  2. Marcus, you might consider a second opinion. If you join our Eyes Apart email Strabismus Support group at Yahoo, someone there may be able to recommend a strabismus surgeon in your area. You will get some great support and find others with situations similar to yours in our Eyes Apart support group too. You could also try searching for a strabismus surgeon in the link in our sidebar. You’ll also find a link there to search for a vision therapy doctor (Behavioral Optometrist) so you can get opinions from both. I wish you the best!

  3. *Sighs* Where do I start…forgive me for my uncorrect grammar that I am about to write down in this comment section…All my childhood I would get bullied for having a lazy eye or for being a “cross eyed freak” as people liked to call me..and it has done some serious mental damage. There is physical damage too, but not from them…from myself cause I used to be a cutter. Cutting was my addiction and I oh so badly miss it. The days where I would just lay in the dark listening to music and contemplating death…good times…good times. From the moment I was born I knew I was different…at age 2, that’s when my right eye turned in. My brother couldn’t stand having a “cross eyed freak” as a sister. All I wanted was to hang out with my big brother, but everytime I did…I’d regret it. He would always make fun of me in front of his friends. In school he would avoid and tell people that I wasn’t his sister or that “I’m adopted” and oh how alone I was. I mean what’s worse than having your iwn sibling tearing you apart with his harsh words every single day. He knew about my condition, but still didn’t want to accept it. I remember one day I was outside playing in the grass all by myself and a couple of boys my age and older came inside and told me to get out and that I was a freak and they threw rocks at me until I cried all the way home…worst part of it all…my brother just stood there and watched…letting each rock hit me. I looked at him with sadness and I weakly smiled at him thinking okay maybe he will help the next time, but boy was I wrong…I couldn’t go to any park in my neighborhood without someone having a go at me. I remember this one park I went to this guy took my towel and wiped his penis with it and peed all over it and threw it at me…and still my brother. Every single day the pain grew stronger and stronger with every harsh words from strangers and my family. One day my brother was playing wrestling with one of his friends and his friend punched him in the heart and my brother dropped to the ground and had a heart attack. I remembering crying and running all the way home just to tell my mom to take him to call the ambulance. Even though he didn’t accept me as a sister. ..I accepted him as a brother. I remember one day in the Summer time I went to the pool and I couldn’t swim. I knew people randomly dunk people…so I went to the crowded pool and got dunked under the water. I kept sinking and sinking to the bottom happily thinking that I will finally sleep peacefully but guess who saved me…my brother. I was choking up the water and looked to see who it was that helped me and I saw my brother swimming away. I was shocked that he saved me and I didn’t even know he was there…from that moment on my brother and I started bonding…we were actually getting along and it made my mom happy. He would still make fun of me around his friends though so It wasn’t really great but that was something I could live with. Growing up I developed anxiety and depression and got addicted to cutting. My brother grew up also but he became a jerk again…yay me…but ever since high school he has changed…he’s much calmer now and it’s the other way around…he wants my attention and I pretend he doesn’t exist..now he knows how it feels…

  4. Naomi, it sounds like so much of your strabismus trauma is related to your brother and his treatment of you. Of course others treated you badly also, but even in those cases you are most saddened because your brother didn’t defend you. That’s understandable. But now that you are grown up, try to look at it in a new, more mature, way. Perhaps your brother’s wanting your attention now is his way of saying he is sorry for the way he treated you when you were children. All of us can look back on things we did as children and realize the immaturity of our actions. Now is your opportunity to reach out to him and grow that bond with your brother. Forgive him for not being there for you as a child and accept that he is trying to mend that shortcoming now. You will only hurt yourself if you continue to nurture the bitterness that you feel toward your brother for his childhood actions. Getting even is not the answer. There is a better way. Here is a poem I memorized in high school and always remember when I feel someone has mistreated me:

    Outwitted by Edwin Markham
    He drew a circle that shut me out–
    Heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout.
    But Love and I had the wit to win:
    We drew a circle that took him in!

    I encourage you to draw a circle that takes your brother in, even if he shuts you out, by showing him forgiveness and kindness in the face of evil, love in the face of hate, and acceptance in the face of rejection. That’s hard to do, but you can do it. You have to do with genuine kindness, though, and be willing to continue until he realizes that you are sincere and are not just trying to get him to be nice to you. I like to think of it as a challenge. I determine that I can be kinder to a person who wrongs me than they can be unkind to me. As you continue treating him with love, you will soon begin to feel that love for him again that once so strong. Deep down you really do care about your brother. You proved that in your reaction to him in childhood. Now you have a choice. You can nurture the love that you know you still have for your brother deep down, or you can nurture bitterness. Bitterness will hurt you a lot more than it hurts your brother. Don’t let your childhood struggles rob you of the bond you can have with your brother now. You will always regret if you do.

    You are welcome, also, to join our Eyes Apart email Strabismus Support Group at Yahoo. You will find caring people who have problems similar to yours an will understand. Just click the purple box in the sidebar to check it out.

  5. Thanks, for your opinion dear admin(lois) ……but really I don’t want further more surgeries in my left eyes…its not mean that I was afraid for surgery actually when I read yours site I gonna cry, due to stories written by people in your site who was suffered from strasbismus….I had also little lazy but my life Is superb actually far more than superb. I gonna be a doctor..currently i prepared for MBBS exam …everyone loves me …..I get respect everywhere either in my college or in my home or by my friends or by my teachers …. ….and you know girls also likes me……listen that all thing happen you too. I was only here to give you confidence. ….believe me my life is not less than Prince and you too are Prince. ….look no-one comes In world with complete package everyone has one fault but god gives us chance to recessive it , thats by your knowledge so, think only about your knowledge & one day thats knowledge dominated over your all fault. ..& you are love by all-one…..did you know Abraham Lincoln , Galileo Galilee …how they are known by their works or their lazy eyes. Yes , they have lazy eyes but what makes them popular ,think It………..LIFE IS VERY INTERESTING , ENJOY EVERY MOMENTS IN YOUR LIFE AND BE A SUCCESSFUL MAN WHO WAS LOVED BY OLL-ONES.

  6. Good for you Ray! Keep that attitude and you will go far. I wish you great success in your pursuit to become a doctor and in everything else you do. You are off to a good start!
    Lois

  7. I came across this site looking for ways to deal with my strabismus. … Some days are better then others i read some of these stories i cried. . Because it brought back bittersweet memories. .. being made fun of growing up by kids at school sometimes even my own family. . To the point where i would walk looking at my shoes i couldn’t look anyone in the face because they always thought i wasnt talking to them if i couldn’t look at them right. . I shut myself down from the world because i felt insecure and unconfident about my looks recently in the last year i developed a cataract in my left eye I’ve worn glasses for as long as i can remember so i just had my surgery last month (left eye) due for my next in January on my right eye (mild cataract ) so the whole new thing for me is not wearing glasses anymore. . Now all i want to do is look at my feet with other people around i look at people who don’t have my eye problem and sometimes feel jealous i wish i had their perfect eyes maybe i could drive maybe i could be a paramedic or a cop like i always wanted as a kid i just wanted to help other people even if some of them were mean to me. . I guess it remains a dream i just sometimes don’t know how to cope with my eyes my parents didn’t really know how to support me with it either they tried but they didn’t know much of it except that i had poor vision well, all I’m trying to say is thank you for showing me I’m not alone ?

  8. Mel, you are definitely not alone. We also have an Eyes Apart email support group if you would like to join. Just click the purple Yahoo! Groups button in the sidebar.

  9. I’ve read some of the posts and they make me tear up. For me, it all started when I was 14 or 15, (I don’t really remember, but I guess that’s a good thing) and I’m 18 now. Every time I would tell myself to suck it up and not worry about my lazy eye, something always seems to happen that lowers my self-esteem. Especially when it’s Christmas time or now with the new year, it just tears me apart. In all honesty, it feels like hell, not looking at people and getting quickly looked away from, like I’m inferior to the everyone. Then there’s what I may never forget: hearing that word for the first time. “Cockeyed”, or “Crosseyed”.

    A myriad of stupid things have happened since then, but I’m glad I found this site. In fact, I’m going to do my best to finally tackle lazy eye, once and for all. If I’ve learned anything from all this, it’s to not give up hope.

  10. hi

    I have a problem with my squinted eyes, I wish I can be confident but I am not I even shy away from relationships because I think no one would love a girl with funny eyes. I so sad it that takes my joy away.

  11. Hi. I am a 24 year old male. Came across this site in the realization that I have pretty much spent most of my life ignoring my feelings about my lazy eye which is my left eye. I wasn’t really bullied that much growing. I did however have a few moments of family and friends saying things that effected more than I thought it did. I can remember for example a girl in middle school that said the only way I would date you if you got your eye fixed.. That event really screwed me up when it comes to females, I always feel that I’m not good enough, which hurts my dating and social life. I feel like I have improved in my confidence and self esteem. But it’s time I take responsibility on how I deal with my lazy eye. I can’t just keep pushing it under the rug. I thought about surgery but doubt it would work my left eye is outward looking and has no movement at all. So I guess my only option is to come to terms with it.

  12. Your eye doesn’t have to have movement to be fixed with surgery. Many people with outward (or inward) turned eyes that don’t move have had the surgery with some measure of success. It is not always perfect and occasionally it doesn’t help at all or makes things worse. And occasionally a person will get almost perfect results from the surgery but for many people the eye eventually starts rotating out again. The surgery is worth looking into.

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