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Living with Lazy Eye

Things have come a long way since I was diagnosed with lazy eye in the early seventies ...

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When I was three – barely more than a baby really - I was diagnosed with a lazy eye.

I don’t know about you, but to me, the phrase “lazy eye” conjures up a silly mental picture of one eye lolling in a hammock, kicking back and relaxing, while the other eye is bent over a desk, working hard!

The reality however is that lazy eye is not an obvious condition, and is usually only identified when you take your child to an optometrist.

My parents were surprised – up until that point they used to call me “hawkeye” because if they dropped something tiny on the floor, I was guaranteed to find it! But it turned out I had a lazy right eye, just like my father, which makes me wonder if it is a hereditary condition.

From the time I was in kindergarten until I was in Year 5 (around 10 years old), I wore glasses. Or perhaps I should say, I was supposed to wear glasses. I hated them and did everything I could to avoid using them!

Why I Hated Wearing Glasses for Lazy Eye

For starters, they were ugly. 

The lenses were as thick as the bottom of a Coke bottle, and required thick frames. My first pair had light blue frames, but I was a girly girl – I wanted pink! When I was in primary school I grew out of my glasses and needed another pair. This time the frames were an ugly dark brown; there was nothing pretty or feminine about them. How I envied my best friend, with her dainty glasses with gold frames!

I was bullied – a lot. 

I was given the nickname “Four Eyes” at school - being teased and taunted is never fun, but I was a shy little thing which made it even more painful. Would I have been bullied if my ugly glasses hadn’t made me such an obvious target? Possibly – but the glasses certainly gave my tormentors something to latch on to.

The glasses made it hard for me to see. I now know that this is because they most likely blurred the vision for my left eye, to try to make my lazy eye work harder. All I knew was that it was much easier to see without them. Was it any wonder I ditched them at every opportunity?

Living with Lazy Eye Today is a Lot Less Traumatic

These days, it’s a very different – and much less traumatic - experience for any child living with lazy eye.

There are drops which dilate the pupil and blur the vision in the stronger eye, thus giving the lazy eye the opportunity to grow stronger.

Visual therapy may also be prescribed by a behavioural optometrist, which often involves playing specially created computer games. That sure sounds like a lot more fun than my childhood experiences with lazy eye.

And if spectacles are still needed, lenses are much thinner and there are heaps of great frames to choose from. Brisbane Optometrist Aphrodite Livanestold me that specs have become so fashionable, that she now has children crying when told they don't need them!

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If only it had been like that for me, back in the seventies.

As for me? I’ve now reached an age where I’m back to wearing glasses again, to help me see things close up. But at least I can choose stylish specs – and schoolyard bulling is no longer an issue!

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