No Thanks, I Don’t Want Surgery for My Weird Eye Condition

why I’m embracing the “flaw”

Aug 23, 2018 · 4 min read
not my eye (Photo by paul morris on Unsplash)

I went to a new eye doctor a few months ago and I’m still thinking about a question she asked me:

“Have you considered surgery to correct it?”

Which of the following eye conditions of mine do you think she was referring to?

  • cotton-eyed joe
  • queer eye
  • third eye blind
  • eye of the tiger
  • ptosis

If you guess ptosis, you’re correct and I’m impressed!

If you guessed ptosis and you know what it is, I’m even more impressed. (You’re probably a doctor and/or have it yourself.)

For the uninitiated, here’s the super complex definition. See if you can keep up:

ptosis: a drooping upper eyelid

It’s pronounced toe-sis; the p is silent because it’s pfun like that.

The magic is brought to the lucky afflicted person by a dysfunction in the muscles that raise the eyelid or its nerve supply. It can be caused by injury, aging, or a variety of diseases. Or, it can be congenital — which mine is.

In other words, baby I was born this way. Specifically, my left eyelid droops down lower than my right one. So ‘ol lefty appears a tad smaller. Wonkier.

(But don’t call it lazy. That’s amblyopia, a different condition, which I don’t have.)

Celebrities sporting this optomological trend include Thom Yorke, Melissa Joan Hart, Paris Hilton (that’s hot), and Tegan Quin of Tegan & Sara. Forrest Whitaker has a particularly severe case.

Fortunately, mine is quite minor. Most people don’t notice until I point it out. Or so they claim.

Still, having ptosis hasn’t exactly been a biological blessing.

A droopy eyelid isn’t equal to long lean legs, soft silky hair, or a trust fund.

I always notice my facial asymmetry in the mirror and often cringe at photos. I’m on high alert for facebook tagging notifications, ready to hit back with a “remove tag.”

Here, take a look. I’m sure you’re wondering by now what this wild thing looks like on me. (Hint: not the same as Paris Hilton.)

It can be more or less evident in photos, depending upon the camera angle… and more obvious in real life when I’m tired or drinking.

(Or stressed. So, like, always.)

I was teased about it throughout middle school, after one boy noticed and was kind enough to alert the immature masses. They dubbed the condition “Jodi Eyes.” So creative! (Note: none of them are writers now.)

And when I was sixteen, a peer—whom I had known for nearly ten years — asked if I could “see out of it.” He inquired with hushed fascination, as if I might have been half blind all this time without him knowing.

(For the record, ptosis doesn’t affect my eyesight in the slightest. I’m nearsighted but so are both my parents. It’s unrelated. And ‘ol lefty just so happens to be a bit superior, sight-wise. I need a -2.5 prescription on my contacts for it vs. -2.75 for my “normal” right eye.)

Still, I was jolted by the optometrist's question.

“Have you considered surgery to correct it?”

None of my previous doctors, including optometrists and general practitioners, had ever implied that it was something in need of “correcting.”

I’ve long known that surgery is an option, but it never felt like an option for me. Not because my family and I couldn’t afford it, but because it seemed unnecessary. Indulgent, even. A silly risk akin to most cosmetic nose jobs.

People with more severe cases, in which an eyelid droops low enough to affect their eyesight or dramatically “harm” their looks? Sure, surgery makes sense for them and I’m glad they have that opportunity to improve their lives. But me?? Nah.

My parents never made a big deal out of it. My sister tells me I’m an idiot. (“It’s not noticeable in that photo! Ugh, don’t be ridiculous.”) My extended family loves and accepts me. My friends think of it as just a fun trivia fact, like a shortened toe or a third nipple. “This is Jodi. She can identify any Friends episode by a single screenshot, she’s been whitewater rafting 14 times, and she has ptosis.”

So no, Dr. Name Redacted, I haven’t considered “correcting” it.

But thank you for asking. Truly. It’s helped me realize that I’m comfortable with my ptosis.

Maybe I don’t love it (I don’t), but I wouldn’t fully recognize myself without it. And I like myself.

Doctor, here’s why I can’t stop thinking about your question: it’s helped me reflect and conclude, with more conviction than ever before, that I don’t need correcting. My eyes and I like being a bit wonky. Thanks.

I wish I had eye of the tiger though.

Jodi Tandet

Written by

recovering em dash overuser writing about mental health, dating, pop culture & other oddities — all with humor + Hamilton references //

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