All Eyes on You

One of the ways I test whether someone is an unobservant jerk is if, upon meeting me, they ask “Are you looking at me?”

Yes, I am looking at you. My right eye points slightly outward but, yes, both of my eyes are looking at you, the one just takes a little while and a bit of extra concentration to appear as if it’s looking at you.

I have a lazy eye or, if you want to be technical, strabismus or esotropia. As a baby, my parents first noticed when I was three or four months old that my eyes tended to drift towards my nose. It was obvious that something was wrong, even to total strangers who had great fun pointing it out to my parents, as if they hadn’t noticed it themselves. They took me to an eye doctor who sent me to a strabismus specialist who recommended they patch my eye and, eventually, get surgery.

See, you have six muscles which control the movement of your eyes. People with strabismus have weak muscles so their eyes tend to drift more in one direction, rather than stay centered. While this does make you look a bit strange, it’s also a medical issue as folks with strabismus tend to use one eye much more than the other. When you only use one eye most of the time, the other atrophies and depth perception goes right out the window. (My own depth perception is good enough I don’t regularly fall down sets of stairs but I do have to drive as if there’s a giant bubble around my car.) Patching forces you to use your weaker eye and surgery, without going into the gory details, corrects those weak muscles. Most people have one surgery at less than  year old, then one or more later to keep the eye from going yet another direction (hence my center-moving eyes drifting outward now, though left or right going to up or down is much more common).

While I love talking about me, I’m rambling about all of this because Squirms, as you may have noticed from the photos, has the same thing. We noticed when she was a few months old and it’s only gotten worse with time. She’s seen two different doctors, both specialists in strabismus in children, and they gave us the same diagnosis and treatment plan. Her main doctor suggested glasses, which she wore for all of two months before she got big enough to figure out how to take them off. We go between being really good about patching her daily to forgetting for weeks.

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Squirms at 3 months old, when we first started noticing her strabismus


Her surgery is scheduled for a week from Tuesday, with pre-op appointments with her pediatrician and eye doctor this next week. I haven’t started freaking out yet but I’m expecting that to start anytime now, though the most dangerous part of the whole thing is the anesthesia. But she’ll learn to use both her eyes and increase her chances of being a future soccer star, though she’ll still be overcoming her hereditary clumsy nature to do that.

And she’ll still be really, really cute.

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