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A Whole New Outlook | Overview

A whole new outlook

Regina OneilIn August, David Hunter, MD, PhD, chief of Ophthalmology at Boston Children's Hospital, operated on my eyes and did what I had thought was impossible: He made my eyes straight and gave me depth perception for the first time in my life.

My eyes had been misaligned for as long as I could remember. My parents told me that after I had a high fever as a baby, my eyes had become crooked, with the left eye turned all the way to the outside corner. I had surgery on my left eye twice as a child, once when I was 5 and again when I was 12. Despite the operations, my eyes had never been straight, and I'd never been able to focus both of them at the same time. As I got older, they got worse: I began getting double vision, usually when looking to the left side while driving a car or riding a bike.

Going through life with misaligned eyes affected me greatly. My self-confidence was always compromised, especially in my professional work. I never wanted to engage in conversations because I could never look people straight in the eye. I would spend a tremendous amount of energy trying to hide my eyes—I'd turn my head to one side, use glasses to make the misalignment less obvious and try to find a place to stand or sit to try to make my eyes appear straight. It affected me professionally, too: When I'd attend meetings and try to negotiate or debate issues, I always felt that my crooked eyes put me at a disadvantage. And as a professor of Management at Suffolk University for the past nine years, it's been difficult for me to teach large classes because my students didn't know who I was calling on.

Over the years, doctors shook their heads. Some told me that more surgery wouldn't help, since there wasn't any more room to move the eye muscle. Others insisted that my condition wasn't the result of that childhood fever at all, but that I'd been born with strabismus and there was nothing they could do.

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