Strabismus and the rich and famous
Becoming rich and/or famous can happen to anyone, including those with a squint. Some
celebrities take much care to be photographed such that it doesn't show (for example
Barbra Streisand), others make it their trademark (for example Ben Turpin). Actors may do
a 'cross-eyed' act, and cartoon characters may exhibit a very large and obvious esotropia,
because being cross-eyed is often considered to be funny. However, there has not been any
research indicating that esotropia is linked to greater than average sense of humor or
- Abraham Lincoln
||"BACKGROUND: The vertical strabismus manifested by Abraham Lincoln
has been noted. This article reviews the historical findings and provides a specific
diagnosis. MATERIALS: Previous reports of symptoms and history relating to Lincoln's left
hypertropia were reviewed. A series of photographs were reviewed. Lincoln's own
description of his symptoms is provided. RESULTS: Previous history indicates an
intermittent left hypertropia. A family history of vertical strabismus was noted with
regard to Mr Lincoln's cousin. There also is a history of trauma to the left frontal area
and life-mask evidence of fracture over the left eye. The findings include a history of
head tilt and diplopia, presumably most readily in downgaze.
CONCLUSION: Given the history and findings, the diagnosis of left superior oblique paresis
of either congenital or traumatic origin seems appropriate."
Author: Goldstein JH, Department of Ophthalmology, State University of New York, Brooklyn,
Source: J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus, 1997 Mar, 34:2, 118-20
- Singer/Actor Barbra Streisand
||"In school and in the start of her career, Streisand was rejected
repeatedly by directors because she simply wasn't pretty enough, which only strengthened
her insecurities about her appearance. Her rejections were reminiscent of names like
'Cross-eyes' and 'Big beak'"
(From: Book review:
"A personal perspective on Barbra Streisand's life")
- Actor Ben Turpin
|"Ben Turpin said of himself that he was so cross-eyed that when he
cried, the tears rolled down his back."
(From an article titled Uses of humor)
- Marty Feldman
||Hyperthyroidism means producing too much thyroid hormone; patients
generally have excess energy, and are thin. This is also called "Grave's
Disease". It can affect the tissues around the eye and in the orbit; a condition
named "thyroid related orbitopathy". Double vision is common, as the eyes no
longer point in the same direction.
"A picture of the comedian and actor, Marty
Feldman, clearly showed the white of the eye above and below the iris, the protrusion of
the eye and that the eyes do not focus directly ahead."
- Actor Scott Thompson
'His eyes are penetrating, slightly crossed "but in
a good way," he notes, "like Karen Black. They don't impair my vision, and they
give me a mystique."'
(From an interview with Scott
- Character "Edo" in book "Opwaaiende zomerjurken"
("Summer dresses lifted up by the wind") by Oek de Jong
"Edo has a lazy
eye. To activate it, the other eye is patched. He also gets a pair of glasses. During the
days after the treatment Edo doesn't leave house and garden; he refuses to show himself
after his metamorphosis"
(From an abstract of the book Opwaaiende zomerjurken" [in Dutch]
The author himself, in the picture on that page, appears to be a bit esotropic; Edo's lazy
eye might be an autobiographic detail.
- Act by Mike Myers
"Acting is very easy to do if you just number your
expressions. I turn up to the director and I say, "I'd like to start out with a one,
then a two, shift to a four and then end on a three." And then there is cross eyes. I
think that being cross eyed is very funny."
- Cartoon character Quiggly (The Simpsons)
student." mentioned on a page that used to be here: http://snpp.com/, The Simpsons Archive; Cast List.
"You look funny!"
Many physical characteristics are made fun of, from baldness to a limp to knock-kneed
legs to stuttering and the shape of one's nose or ears, so it's not at all unusual to find
strabismus as one of the many things people laugh at. It's not sacrilige. For a child
attending school it can be very hard to be teased by its classmates though, and as goes
for all bullying and other abusive behavior in schools, this should not be taken lightly
and laughed away. Being teased is very damaging to a child; self-esteem suffers greatly.
No matter what it is the kid is teased about. Adults can be bullied too, by, for instance,
their co-workers. Needless to say that has nothing to do with "being funny"
either. Depending on how you see it, the use of comical stereotypes like a funny
cross-eyed individual in a movie can be entertaining or damaging, but the most important
thing about a movie is still its quality, never mind what physical characteristics the
actors either have or pretend to have.