People With Visible Eye Deformities Face Prejudice
Keltner says that his first goal in treating patients with strabismus is to
obtain equal vision in both eyes, and the second goal, if possible, is to get
the eyes to work together to give perception of depth. "Often we can't
completely achieve either one of those goals, but the one thing we can do
realistically is to get the patients to look like the rest of the world,"
he says. "That's tremendous."
Keltner says his own work is motivated in part by his memories of the
psychosocial abuse he encountered in kindergarten as a child with amblyopia, a
condition that causes dimness of vision.
The study is an important addition to a growing body of evidence showing
that misaligned eyes have a negative social and occupational influence,
according to Rosenbaum, who is chief of the division of pediatric ophthalmology
at the Doris Stein Eye Research Center at UCLA.
"We now have a lot of evidence to support the idea that this surgery is
required to rehabilitate a disability, not to enhance beauty," he tells
WebMD. He says it should be considered in the same category as someone who
needs a skin graft or correction of a facial birthmark.
And he says that successful surgery for some patients can still yield visual
improvements. "These patients can actually visually benefit from this
surgery late in life ? both in terms of quality of vision and the size of the
visual field," Rosenbaum says.
Physicians should view patients with strabismus as having a disability that
requires compassion, Rosenbaum says. Early surgical correction will minimize
the length of time they will have to deal with the negative effects of the
- New research studies show that people with strabismus, or misaligned eyes,
are judged more negatively in society and that the condition affects their
quality of life.
- Corrective surgery for strabismus is often categorized as cosmetic, not
reconstructive, and many insurance companies won't pay for it.
- Some experts argue that the surgery is not cosmetic, because it doesn't
enhance beauty but only makes a person appear normal.