Talking to Someone with a Lazy Eye

Too much eye contact can be intimidating or creepy. Not enough eye contact makes you feel like the person doesn’t care about you. But the most confusing situation is when both eyes are looking in different directions. Learn to deal with this without looking baffled.

Until 1991, I had no idea I had a lazy eye. It wasn’t just a little lazy, either. It was a full on “where did that girl’s pupil go?” situation. Granted, I was five years old, and didn’t spend that much time on my personal appearance. My mom made an appointment at the ophtalmologist and I finally I found out something was a little off. She told me that whenever she talked to me, my right eye was usually wandering about. This explained why many of the kids I’d tried to befriend in kindergarden avoided eye contact. After surgery and regular use of glasses, my eye acts pretty normal. But occasionally I feel it attempting a journey of its own, and I wonder what it seems like to the person I’m speaking with.

People with Lazy Eyes Are Really Looking at You

When you first notice a person’s lazy eye, it can be pretty distracting. What throws you off is that it looks like one of their eyes is looking at you, and one of them is looking somewhere else. That can make it feel like they’re not really making eye contact and don’t want to pay attention. Keep in mind that both their eyes are in fact looking at you. One of them just has a hard time staying centered. Mild changes can take place – as a kid, I sometimes saw a doubled image because both my eyes were focusing differently. But for most people, they feel like they’re staring right at you. So don’t pause and wonder if their attention is on you, just carry on with what you’re saying.

Most People Know They Have a Lazy Eye

There are some unfortunate children like myself who have no idea what their eyeballs are doing. If you are the parent or close relative of such a person, you probably want to call it to their attention. Most people, however, are aware of what their optical organ does. If you can’t concentrate because of your friend’s situation, acknowledge it instead of avoiding eye contact. Even if they don’t look at themselves all the time, they know it’s distracting.  Say something like this:

“Sometimes your eye starts moving and it throws me off”

This is obviously for a friend, co-worker or family member, and will lighten a possibly awkward situation. Don’t use this line on a sales person, flight attendant or your boyfriend’s mom. Just suck it up and move on.

When you’re talking to someone you’ll probably never see again, it’s not worth making them feel self conscious about their ocular situation. If you really feel uneasy, find another point of their face to focus on and wrap up the conversation as quickly as possible. If the person is a regular fixture in your life, acknowledge the situation instead of acting uncomfortable.

Have an awkward question you want us to answer?  Email us at or give us a call at (323) 456-3345.

One thought on “Talking to Someone with a Lazy Eye”

  1. What if you have a similar problem and you’re constantly distracted by moving things on the periphery? What if you have a really hard time maintaining eye contact, not because you’re shy, but because the rest of the world is so damned interesting.. at least for a second or two?


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