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Is Crossing Your Eyes Harmful?

woman crossing her eyes


“If you keep crossing your eyes, they’re going to stay that way!” It’s something many parents tell their children, but is it true?

Here’s everything you need to know about crossing your eyes including its potential consequences.

Why can you cross your eyes?

Your eyes are controlled by six muscles that allow them to look up, down and from side to side. During your first year of life, your brain develops the capacity to create one image from the two that get received by your eyes. This ability is known as fusion. When you look at something very close to your face, your eyes automatically point inward and toward the bridge of your nose in order to see it properly. This is normal and an important part of seeing as it ensures you don’t experience double vision. However, all these functions also lend you the ability to cross your eyes.

Will crossing your eyes damage your vision?

As children, many people discover they can cross their eyes and do so in order to make friends and family members laugh. While this may cause adults to worry, it won’t cause any permanent damage. Crossing your eyes can cause muscle fatigue (much like when you exercise any other muscle), but it won’t have any lasting effect. This means that while you may experience a little pain or discomfort in your eyes after crossing them, with a little rest, they’ll go back to feeling normal.

Can your eyes become permanently crossed?

While your eyes won’t become permanently damaged from crossing them voluntarily, there is a disorder that can cause them to point inward. This condition is called strabismus and is usually due to a problem with the eye muscles. Though the condition refers to any misalignment of the eye, it’s often associated with an eye that points toward the nose. Often requiring surgery to correct, strabismus isn’t something that you can cause. Instead, it develops due to illness or injury. If not corrected, strabismus can lead to amblyopia (commonly referred to as a lazy eye), which can cause double vision and eventual loss of sight in the affected eye.

Optical care for children

Are you concerned about your baby or child’s eyes? If so, be sure to schedule an appointment for a pediatric eye exam at an Optometrists’ Clinic location near you. Our optometrists are able to diagnose or rule out strabismus and other troubling eye conditions. Call us today to make an appointment.


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