Even though I wear tinted glasses that make it difficult to see my eyes, I often get questions from strangers, new friends, and others around me about the appearance of my eyes. Many of these questions are from well-meaning people or people who do not know much about visual impairment, and since I am very much open about my condition, I don’t mind answering questions for those who ask in a nonthreatening manner. Here is how I answer strangers’ questions about my eyes and the appearance of my eyes without taking off my glasses. I’m also including a few jokes that I’ve made when answering these questions in addition to the serious explanation.
- Answering Stranger’s Questions: College Visitors Edition
- Answering Stranger’s Questions- Glasses Edition
- Answering Stranger’s Questions- Children Edition
Why do your eyes cross all the time?
I have an eye condition which causes my eyes to turn inwards. I can switch between which eye turns inwards, but one eye always is turned towards my nose. I can’t demonstrate what the eye switching looks like as it is painful for me to take my glasses off- more on that later.
- I always have to keep an eye on my nose so it doesn’t run
- My mom said I needed to stop crossing my eyes or they would freeze like that, and I didn’t listen
Do your eyes look like blind eyes?
Nope, my eyes look like any other pair of eyes, they just turn inwards. There’s no difference in color or appearance. They also aren’t shaped any special way.
- No, they are low vision eyes
- They look like human eyes (not to say “blind eyes” aren’t human looking, my eyes just look like those of any other human)
How do your eyes look?
They are brown and I have two of them, but one turns inwards. I was asked this question when guest lecturing and found that the easiest way to explain it without taking off my glasses was to draw a picture on the board that showed how my eyes turned in but otherwise appeared normal.
- The issue isn’t how they look, it’s how they see
- My eyes look very nice, thanks for asking
Isn’t there surgery to fix this?
I’ve had two eye surgeries, but my eye condition is well-managed thanks to prescription glasses and the power of assistive technology/accessibility for people with visual impairments.
- I haven’t actually found a way to joke about this yet. I like my default answer a lot.
Why don’t you take off your glasses?
I have very intense photosensitivity and the light feels like it burns my eyes. Because of this, I wear tinted glasses and sunglasses to protect my eyes from the light.
If the person asking me this question is the TSA at the airport, I explain that my eyes are very sensitive to light and I can provide a second ID card which confirms the information on my passport card and features a picture of me with tinted glasses. Normally they let me go ahead without presenting the additional identification.
- In a shouting tone, “The light!!! It burns!!!”
- I’m one of those cool people who wears sunglasses inside
- How Tinted Glasses Help My Light Sensitivity
- Playing in GMU Green Machine Pep Band With Vision Impairment
Why don’t you get contacts?
I can’t get contacts with my eye condition. I also tend to fall asleep due to chronic migraines, and that would be very stressful to do when wearing contacts.
- I think contacts tinted like my glasses would look super weird.
- I love my glasses too much
I’m sure you look better without your glasses on, don’t you agree?
I might look better, but I definitely would not see better. I can’t actually see myself without my glasses unless I take a picture, and I prefer to be able to see things with my glasses than to not see much of anything at all.
- I know a lot of people that would look better without my glasses on
- If I’m not wearing my glasses, we have bigger problems than my appearance.
If your eyes look normal, why do you use a cane?
I have a visual impairment that causes me to have poor peripheral vision and no depth perception, so my blindness cane helps me travel safely and keep me from getting hurt.
- I think it goes well with my outfit
- I run into fewer walls this way
As strange as some of the comments and questions about my eyes can be, I’m more than happy to answer people’s questions, especially since I frequently speak on a public platform about visual impairment. However, people with visual impairments are not responsible for educating every person they come across or answering some, or even all, of these questions. The information that you disclose about your visual impairment is totally your choice, but there’s nothing that says you can’t have a sense of humor when answering questions.