As sometimes happens with strangers, or people I just meet, someone asked me yesterday what happened to my eye.
I was born with a lazy eye. Trouble is, it didn't look that way all the time. So when my mom kept taking me to doctors, they told her it would correct itself. It didn't. When I learned to walk my mom noticed I would bump into things on my left side, so she paraded me back to the doctors, where it was discovered my optic nerve was deteriorating...rapidly. They put me through all kinds of tests, CAT scans and the like, thinking it was a brain tumor or something else. No.
During visual development, if there is no input, or weaker input from one eye, the brain prunes what isn't being used. In my case, it was the optic nerve of my left eye. Now, I am almost entirely blind in my left eye, and it turns in.
This leads me to the real topic of this post. Since I was about 16, when an optician told me that I could have the muscles surgically corrected, I've been thinking about having that surgery. Back then it was risky. I could lose vision in my good eye if anything went wrong. This sufficiently scared my mom and myself from pursuing it. Over the years, with medical advancement, the surgery has become less risky. So now I'm considering it again.
I have a lot of feelings about this. Very strong emotions. For one thing, I have lived with this "flaw" my entire life. It has become part of me. Like a gap between front teeth, or a mole on the cheek or something. For better or worse, it is part of my physical identity. Do I really want to change it?
Second, it hasn't seemed to detract from my attractability. So, why bother? Besides, I'm afraid I'll look a little...vanilla.
Third, I am terrified of any kind of surgery. What if something went horribly wrong? I'm not thinking death, but what if they really messed things up? There have been cases where when they cut the muscles, one snaps back behind the eye and they can never retrieve it. Ugh. This makes me feel sick.
So why am I contemplating it then? For my future professional life. People tend to make snap judgements during interviews. I know I've had lost opportunities because of it.
Because I hate photographs of myself that freeze this flaw. Because the eyes are the first point of contact with anyone. Because I'm tired of always having to explain it. Because I want people to hear what I'm saying and not be thinking about that. Because some men have been attracted to me for solely this reason and that borders too much on a fetish for my liking.
Maybe the most important thing, something that has taken me a very long time to uncover and admit to myself, is that it gets in the way of intimacy. My intimacy. I think there is something about intimacy that requires gazing into each other's eyes. I can't hold a gaze. When I look at someone, I tend to look more at their mouth. Even when I'm watching a movie. This must come from years of conditional and unconscious training.
Then there is the practical issue. Insurance won't cover it so far as I can tell from researching. It is considered cosmetic. And the surgery is fairly expensive, as surgery is. Do I spend that much money? Do I have that much money? If I did, shouldn't I use it to travel, put it in a college fund for my kids?