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6 Tips for People Who Just Received an Eye Condition Diagnosis

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This is the look of mild (or sometimes severe) agitation I have every time I hear someone thinking the world is over just because a loved one has an eye condition (strabismus, amblyopia, etc).

I was diagnosed with exotropia at a young age. It means one of my eyes will “turn out” from the focus of whatever I am trying to focus on. I am a freelance model and have learned to cope and deal with my eye condition and live a successful and happy life as a college student. I am writing this article in the hopes of giving some tips/tricks for both the parents/guardians of loved ones with eye conditions (more specifically: strabismus, but this can be applied to other eye conditions as well) and those who do fight to keep a relatively “normal” life, despite having an eye condition.

Tips for Parents and Guardians of the Newly Diagnosed:

1. Remain calm. I cannot put enough emphasis on this (especially with young children). Children are programmed to suck up information like a sponge, and to copy whatever their caregivers are doing. This means in plain English, if you are freaking the freak out, your child will pick up on this and also feel very anxious. If you do feel a large amount of anxiety, talk to a counselor. It is their job to help you feel at ease with whatever is going on in your life.

2. Do not make this a bigger deal than it is. Do strabismus and other eye conditions make life more difficult? Certainly, but it is not impossible. People who have strabismus (and other conditions) learn their own “ticks” with whatever sets their eyes off, and learn their own techniques to deal with it. Witnessing our caregivers acting like they think we are going to die any moment will only give us more anxiety and likely damage our self esteem.

3. Have an open, honest conversation with your child or loved one. Do not dance around the subject; get straight to the point and be 100 percent honest with yourself (and them). They might actually be feeling pretty OK about whatever it is that is affecting them. It is unfair to them (and your wallet) to schedule a large amount of appointments with vision therapists, surgeons, eye doctors and so forth if your child is actually doing OK.

Tips for the Newly Diagnosed:

1. If you have esteem issues… Write “you are beautiful” or something of the sort on note cards. Tag them to your bathroom mirror, the back of your bedroom door, or some other place where it will be the first thing you read every morning. This can really help change your views about yourself for the better, since you are beginning your day feeling good.

2. Learn your ticks. Everyone has “ticks” for when their eye condition is going to be particularly “bad for the day,” as I put it. For me, I notice this whenever I am very sleepy or I just have a feeling that my eye is starting to “drift.” I close my eyes and try to get both of my eyes to look up, look left, look right, look down and then back up top before opening my eyes again to realign them.

3. If you notice your health taking a turn for the worse, tell someone! Also, never skip eye appointments. They can potentially be your saving grace.

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Originally published: May 1, 2015
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