Surgery is never a small thing, and it always changes lives (for better or worse), but one man recently shared recovery photos from his eye surgery to show how fixing his eye changed much more than just his ability to see.
"Life changing surgery comes in all shapes and sizes. 24 years of insecurity and I can finally start living my life properly," Ryan Williams posted to Imgur.
The photo shows Williams right before and right after he had surgery to correct his crossed eye.
Williams' condition is technically called "strabismus," according to the American Optometric Association. It happens when there's poor connection between brain signals and the muscles attached to the eye. Usually, your brain tells the muscles attached to each eye to move together. But in people who have strabismus, one eye sometimes turns in a different direction.
Over time, the brain will ignore the signal from the turned eye, leading to permanent vision damage — a condition called amblyopia, or lazy eye. Williams has both, according to Health.
He told Health that his left eye turned inward when he was a year old, and he has dreaded talking to new people or having his photo taken ever since.
People who don't know him often "[look] at the wrong eye and [ask] the dreaded 'are you talking to me,' which is only slightly better than photographers telling you again and again to look at the camera," he told Health.
While not everyone needs surgery to correct strabismus, it's used to change the length or position of eye muscles so that the eye looks straight, according to the AOA. People who have surgery often also need therapy to improve their vision and keep the eye from drifting again.
Williams told Health that his surgery took less than an hour, and has made him beyond happy.
“[I]t's been 3 weeks since my op and I can't help but smile every time I look in the mirror,” he told Health. “I’m no longer scared to approach strangers and no longer have the constant fear in the back of my head when talking to people that they are going to mention it.”
While we're so very happy that Williams feels better after his surgery, the reason he had insecurities about his eye isn't because of the eye. It's because of how people treated him for looking differently. It's a stigma many people with visible disabilities face. It's not on people who have disabilities to "fix" what makes them different, it's on everyone else to treat them better.