I Am Not a Pirate

Do you know what you’re looking at? It’s the back of my right eyeball.

I had this photo taken last week when I went to visit an optometrist for the first time in about six years. Yes, I went six whole years without updating my glasses prescription or even getting the health of my eyes checked, but hey! I am the first to admit that my priorities are a little bit out of whack sometimes.

I opted to have the photo of my eye taken over having them dilated, which always makes me super dizzy and even worse at driving than usual. The doc said my eyes are basically in good health (and looking like deep sea! Damn!), but that the strabismus in my right eye needed some help.

For those of you who don’t know, “strabismus” is basically a fancy word for “lazy eye.” Yup, I have a lazy eye. I had corrective surgeries on it when I was five and nine, but those tend to kind of wear off over time, especially if you wait six years in between check ups.

Having a lazy eye growing up was not easy. I was picked on a lot because of it (and because of many other things, too. I was and am bookish and occasionally shy or kind of a spaz). When I came back to school two weeks after my second corrective surgery, I was bullied for months. I have a very clear memory of three older girls walking up to me in the hallway and saying, “You’re the girl that has monster eyes, right?”

As an adult, being told that I have “monster eyes” would feel like more of a compliment than anything (I tip my hat to Kanye West but more specifically, Nicki Minaj, for making the word “monster” extra cool), but I cried my good eye out as soon as I got home that day. I felt like such a freak and resented that I was being put through something that no one else I knew had to go through.

This week, when the optometrist told me that my strabismus was working overtime and now affecting the vision in my left-eye, I knew what he was going to say next. History repeating itself.

“Are you going to have me wear an eye patch?”

“Yes,” he responded. “Every day for two hours a day for the next three months. When an adult has a lazy eye, it’s much harder to heal, so I need you to go into intensive therapy on it right away. Do you know what that means?”

“You want me to learn French, so you’re sending me to France.”


Wearing an eye patch for a few hours every day was also a pretty traumatic experience for a younger me, especially at school, but when I found out that I’d have to do it all again, I just laughed. That’s one of the many upsides of being an adult. All the trauma that you went through as a kid eventually becomes an acceptable and sometimes funny part of you. Wear an eye patch every day? Hand the thing over. What do I care? I hang out with hipsters and artists and other degenerates now, I’ll fit right in.

So this is what I look like now. For two hours a day every day for the next three months of my life. It’s not that bad, and honestly? I’m inspired to go ahead and get braces again.

Molly McAleer (A.K.A. Molls) is a writer and a co-founder of HelloGiggles. She lives in Los Angeles with her chihuahua, Wagandstuff. You can see more of her work here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennylonussen Jenny Lonussen

    Rock that eye patch! I think it suits you, besides you could always hold a pirate themed party and you’ll instantly be the star of said party 😉

    My sister went through the same thing when she was a kid, the optometrist even gave her eyepatches with colorful cartoons and stuff to make it look ‘cooler’. She also got a book which featured a kid who got diagnosed with a lazy eye and who after getting some colorful glasses and eye patches (much like the eye patches my sister got) became the star of his class. Haha! :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberley.mosher Kimberley Mosher

    I also suffered from a lazy eye when I was younger, and I was given prescription bi-focals to correct it. How horrible! All I remember is the trauma of being in grade 6 band class, and being made fun of by not just the kids, but also the band director! Apparently I tilted my head too far down to see the music or something – but it was all because of the bi-focals. Thanks to my formative years with bi-focals I’ve avoided any time with a patch, but I wish you luck in your eye care with the patch. You now have the right to make up awesome stories that can elaborate on why you currently have a patch. Let the creative storytelling begin!

    • molls

      Yeah, my fam was pretty on top of taking care of my sitch. I had the bifocals when I was two, but three years with them didn’t do much, so that’s when they started surgeries. I barely remember the first one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/juliagazdag Julia Gazdag

    Girl, you’re all over the interwebs — use that shit and get some folks to send you sassy eyepatches you can wear! Or make them yourself. I would, but then, I’m into crafts.

    It seems like every awesome person I’ve ever met was teased and had a hard time in school. I’m telling my kids that they better hope they get a lot of crap in school, or they won’t turn out good.

    • molls

      I totally feel the same way! Everyone I know who’s worth a damn had some weird school situation growing up. Or camp or whatever. I think being picked on teaches you to have like, semi-reasonable reactions in the long run because you just start to look at things like, “What? That’s not a big deal.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/mnicolassanchez Mireia Nicolas

    If I were you, I would totally buy a satin eye patch to do it in style.

  • http://www.facebook.com/victoria.rey Victoria Rey

    I have a strabismus AND I had one of those crazy corrective surgeries. When I was was younger, though, I would use my lazy eye to ward off my classmates (man, now I feel like an even weirder kid).

    A few eye appointments ago I freaked out on my eye doctor because I could feel my vision going double like it used to and I was convinced that painful, terrible, tv inhibiting surgery would have to be done again. He assured me it was in my mind but now, well now I just might jump the gun and have eyepatch time to avoid any further surgeries.

    Or I could just stop being a spaz.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebeccagialluca Rebecca Gialluca Raia

    Do they make fun eye-patches for adults? Like the ones with drawings with them? It would be fun to do a eye-patch craft night!

  • http://www.facebook.com/samilanna Samantha Alanna Wittwer

    I spent the duration of the 2006 Winter Olympics in an 1970’s Shag Pad/ Ski Cabin with a particularly large eye patch due to a scratched retina. I was more embarrassed by the lack of coordination I had because I couldn’t wear my glasses over the thing, but maybe the world wasn’t ready for the Buddy Holly/ Pirate look quite yet.
    So, I’ve got a lot of respect for your Patch Confidence, and perhaps something like this would be the best way to show the world that you find ocular health mad sexy.


  • http://www.facebook.com/cchowington Caroline Coghill

    I love reading your posts and now surfing around on your youtube channel. You’re like the kind of people I wish I had hanging around in high school. I too now hang with hipsters and when I first started out, I wore horribly preppy clothes and just looked like an idiot because I knew that wasn’t me. So, my friend took my garage sale shopping and I concidentally bought this killer sweater with pearl buttons which I proceeded to wear for the next three years. It literally fell apart when I finally threw it away, but rock that eye patch like I rocked my sweater because your super cool, hilarious, and you can make pirate jokes. Those are due for a comeback. Just saying :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/amyamyamy17 Amy Danielle

    Molls, everything you write makes me want to give you a hug. You are so funny and awesome and I feel like if we lived in the same state, I would find you (totally not stalk… totally.) and we would be best friends.
    And also I love that your lips are always red. You make that patch look sassy and sophisticated. Nice!

  • http://www.facebook.com/abbyluna Abigail Aguisanda

    I think you should sticker the eye patch or bedazzle it with HG (HelloGiggles, duh!) or your initials. Just sayin, I think you can fierce work it. Or rock a monocle. Hang in there Molls, we got yo back!

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidismyfirstname David Aguilera

    I may or may not have searched Etsy for eye patches because of this article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1080830127 Beth Curry

    I remember having to wear a patch (well, it was more like a bandaid over glasses – I didn’t need glasses [then] as far as I’m aware) when I was around 4 or 5 for a while, so I assume I had the same thing.

    Thinking of that also reminded me that I used to go to a speech therapist around the same time. I’m surprised at how much I’ve forgotten.

    Rock that eye patch! I can’t believe I just googled “Swarovski eye patch.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/pinkgrapefruits87 Lauren Nespoli

    I had to wear an eye patch as a baby because of something similar, but then they realized one of the muscles wasn’t attached so they had to do surgery. All of this happened before I was 2 so I don’t remember the patch, but apparently I wasn’t fond of it! I was lucky though because they said I’d have to have another surgery before I was 7 and glasses by age 12. I’m 24 and never had another surgery and don’t wear glasses (*knocks wood* just to be safe!) I get my eyes checked every year though because I’m afraid of needing another surgery or the corrective glasses or something!
    In school, kids make fun of each other for such stupid reasons and, of course, it’s totally a big deal at the time but now I look back at some of the things I got made fun of for and laugh because I would probably make the same choice now and not care if they teased me. So, I say you should make fashionable eye patches to go with your outfits and use it as an accessory; maybe you’ll start a trend! Or maybe it’s better to just wear it when you’re home and no one sees it, but the accessory thing could be fun too! 😉

  • http://www.facebook.com/mss.wright Chandra Wright

    Love this post, takes me home. I’ve worn coke bottle glasses since age 2, even the so called “featherweight” lens are heavy on my face. Have had 2 corrective surgeries for my lazy eye and archive so many photos of switching the patch from left to right eye. After all the wretched torture through out my childhood years I am mad strong. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/spamster Sam Slama

    1. I totally understand the “it used to be so embarrassing but now it’s just funny” part of this story. Definitely had headgear IN HIGH SCHOOL. Now I just laugh about it because, well, it’s obvious. HEADGEAR!

    2. LOVE the Monster reference. That song became such an anthem for my lacrosse team at Nationals this year, and no one seems to understand our obsession (we’re all convinced it helped our ninth seeded team finish SECOND in the nation!!) Nicki Minaj is unreal. I’d also take a monster compliment any day :)

    3. Learned about how eye patches correct lazy eye in psych classes last year. My inner nerd loves seeing what I learn in school apply to the real world (because let’s be real, how much of it actually does?)

    Love this blog!

  • http://www.facebook.com/MaryJoe28 Maria Jose Rojas

    so I don’t have a lazy eye but I totally get being mocked in school. I was a 14 year old fully speaking english (native is spanish) dork,who loved harry potter,the beatles and was a little chuby…I got braces just before I was 17 and got into college…I lost almost 30 pounds and had to deal with being laughed at for the braces before I lost all the weight…

    What I’m trying to say is, I understand you, being laughed at in school means you grow a stronger person and you don’t seem to care too much about people making stupid comments about you. You can totally rock that eye patch,just like I learned to rock my braces and eff people off :)

    All my best

    PS> also considering to get braces again…I wasn’t as careful with the retainers and my teeth are starting to get crooked again…We can totally rock ’em!

  • http://www.facebook.com/shira.straus Shira Straus

    I also had a lazy eye as a child- nothing to do with my strabismus as far as I know, but I spent my life from ages 4-5 wearing a patch for hours a day to strengthen my lazy eye in addition to glasses. Eventually the situation improved and while I’ve worn glasses my entire life (and was teased for the lens for my lazy eye that was MUCH thicker than my other lens) I’ve luckily never had any other problems.

    Good luck with your patching, and I sincerely hope you’re able to avoid surgery!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=780750320 Stephanie Johnson Martin

    Pretty much the coolest looking chic with an eye patch.
    I also want to see that picture behind you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/moniquejo629 Monique Johnson

    Well, since it’s story sharing time.. I had “lazy eye” growing up, except I had it in both eyes. I have the traumatic memories of the other kids, one in particular, who used to always make sure to point it out when one or both of my eyes was rolling off to the side. I had to alternate the patch from eye to eye. And I had the bifocals. And they put these awful drops in my eyes that made my vision go wonky every night. I remember that going to the eye doctor was like my worst nightmare come true. When I was 9 I had surgery on both my eyes, it made blood pool in my eyes for a while afterwards. and there were kids who used to try to force me to tilt my head to the side so they could be grossed out by the blood pooling to that side. And now I fear it’s been years since I had mine checked. And every once in a while lately there’s someone pointing out that my right eye is traveling. When I finally do get in, I am sure I will have to relive those memories, it’s going to be fun! But I swear I’ll rock the eye patch like it’s a hot pair of shoes. And I am sure my daughter will adore my sweet pirate impersonations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=840731307 Hannah Heun

    It’s so fabulous reading about someone else who went through what I did as a child. I had strabismus surgery when I was three and went through crazy amounts of terrible glasses. I was picked on and always asked, “Are you looking at me or someone else?” Looking back on those pictures makes me feel so much different now. It’s like a part of my character that I treasure so deeply. Rock that eye patch!

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