Your Eyes Will Get Stuck That Way!

English: Strabismus: Accommodative Esotropia, ...

Strabismus: Accommodative Esotropia, uncorrected (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two pediatricians, Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, and Dr. Rachel C. Vreeman, took a look at things our mothers told us and the current medical literature to see if our Mom’s advice was true.

The result was the book, “Don’t Cross Your Eyes…They’ll Get Stuck That Way! And 75 Other Health Myths Debunked.”

Did your Mom ever say this to you?

Do you remember the excitement of finding out that you could control your eye muscles and you didn’t have to look straight ahead all the time?

Did you have a little brother or sister who bugged you and ran away in fear if you crossed your eyes at them?

English: Strabismus: Accommodative Esotropia, ...

Strabismus: Accommodative Esotropia, corrected. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Was that about the time that your mother warned you they’d get stuck?

Drs. Carroll and Vreeman examine this common threat about eyes.

It’s not true that they’ll get stuck if you cross them voluntarily.

Mom’s threat was probably to introduce an element of doubt in your mind.

She may have been kidding.

She may have just wanted you to stop bugging your little brother or sister.

She might have heard it from her mother and thought it was true.

But, you didn’t know which.

You use three pairs of muscles to see.

Your eyes may get tired or you may get blurry vision if you keep them crossed too long.

Using them too long to focus at one point, as though you were looking at something very close to your nose, can tire them.

The same thing happens to me if I look at something at the same distance for too long.

I’ve had lasik surgery, with one eye tuned to long-distance and one for close-ups.

If I go to a museum, for instance, I can’t look at paintings three feet away for more than an hour without tiring my eyes.

Uncrossing your eyes, or, in my case, looking at things closer or farther away than the paintings, relaxes the muscles.

There is a condition, called strabismus, that two to four percent of the population has in which the eyes are not aligned.

You are usually born with it.

It is sometimes called lazy eye, or cross-eyed.

It is treated by opthamologists.

I had a girlfriend in elementary school who had this.

You would be talking to her and one eye just didn’t focus on you.

She wore a patch for several weeks until her weak eye got strong enough to match her strong eye and the condition went away.

Today, patches or eyeglasses may be still be used, or, in some cases, surgery.

This condition can develop late in life from an infection or brain tumor.

But, strabismus does not develop from crossing your eyes and teasing your little sister.

No matter what your Mom told you.

Thanks to Don’t Cross Your Eyes…They’ll Get Stuck That Way for this idea.

 This article was first published at

Do you know how to cross your eyes?

Do your grandchildren?

Did you ever get in trouble for it?

To you and making funny faces with your grandchildren.

Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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