Healthy Family | Home Safety | Health and Wealth | Relationship Issues | Career Advice | Growing Family
Get the SixWise e-Newsletter FREE!
Google Web
Free Newsletter Subscription
Get the Web's Most trusted & Informative Health, Wealth, Safety & More Newsletter -- FREE!


Share Email to a Friend Print This


If You Cross Your Eyes, or Scrunch Your Face, Will They Stay Like That Forever?

At a certain age, crossing your eyes - or parting your lips wide as possible in all directions with your fingers, or pulling your nostrils back so you looked like a pig, or countless other creative variations of the face - was a premier form of merriment, sure to entertain friends, siblings and strangers in passing cars as much as it entertained you ...

That is, until mom or another "responsible" adult noticed the facial acrobatics and issued the warning that always turned the laughter to terror:

"If you keep doing that, your face is going to stay that way!"


According to Dr. William Melms of the Marshfield Clinic-Stettin Center, "Both making a face or crossing your eyes are caused by voluntary muscle movements, and anything caused by voluntary muscle movements will fatigue eventually and will not stay that way.

Imagining an entire life spent with a thumb in each ear, fingers spread, eyes crossed, and tongue jutting out of your mouth - how would you be able to eat, to sleep, to ride your bike, to play on the monkey bars, and what would your friends think of you then? -- you immediately pulled down the antlers, uncrossed the eyes, sucked in the tongue, and overcompensated by keeping your face as stiff and expressionless as possible.

But now, perhaps many decades after the fact but better late than never, we're exposing the truth ...

Your Face WON'T Stay Like That

There is no recorded evidence of anyone's eyes or face actually getting stuck as a result of childhood (or adulthood) facial acrobatics. As a matter of fact, as you will read below, some of those facial stunts can actually be beneficial to your health!
On a serious note, 5% of all U.S. adults, and 5% of all U.S. children, do suffer from misaligned eyes, or Strabismus.

Strabismus is more commonly referred to as a wandering, crossed, or lazy eye, giving the appearance that they're looking in different directions. In fact, the eyes are unable to focus simultaneously on a single point causing a lack of binocular vision. If the condition has been longstanding for the patient, the brain learns to suppress, or turn off, one eye to avoid double vision.

"Multiple factors could be responsible for eyes that cross in (esotropia) and eyes that turn out (exotropia). They include facial and orbital configurations and various muscle imbalances and insertions," says ophthalmologist Dr. Andrew Collins.

Cross Eyed

Contrary to the parental warnings, there is no evidence that crossing your eyes will result in your eyes "staying that way." Those with crossed eyes, or Strabismus, are generally born with the condition - and fortunately treatment these days is very safe and effective.

Your Eyes Should Be Just Fine, Actually

It is actually normal for infants' eyes to wander up to 3 months of age. After 3 months they should be straight.

If a child purposely crosses his eyes, the eyes should return to their normal position when the child relaxes. If not, there is reason for concern. A muscle imbalance is causing the eye problem. This would not be a cause of crossing the eyes, however, but instead just a symptom of an issue someone is born with. (Perhaps this happened to some child in distant history, prompting the supposed basis for the old wives' tale.)

Dr. Sumers, M.D., says that "you may look funny when you cross your eyes, but your pupils will be just fine." Exercising the muscles in your eyes will not harm you.

Treatment for Those with Strabismus

Surely for some parents, being sensitive to those who actually suffer from crossed eyes was at least part of the reason for the warning issued to their own kids.

Fortunately these days, if someone is suffering from Strabismus, treatments such as special corrective glasses are generally safe, common and effective.

Wayne State University's Professor John Baker, MD found that treatment of Strabismus not only gives the patient an opportunity to see correctly, but that "treatment can enhance self-esteem, communication skills, driving, and a better chance at a career advancement."

So what about scrunching up your face, or expanding your cheeks as wide as they can go with air, or any of the other facial expressions that kids intentionally make (and many adults, such as those angry at their boss or spouse, often unintentionally seem to make)? Is there a risk the face will stay that way?

Not really.

Many of the muscles in the face are attached not to bones, but to each other, or to the skin. We use these muscles to make the huge variety of facial expressions that convey our thoughts, moods, and emotions.

When you use these muscles and then relax them, it is part of their "job" to return to the normal position.

Go Ahead and Make Those Faces ... It Can Be GOOD for You!

FacesIt's TRUE! You can make all the silly, nasty, ridiculous faces you want. In fact, do a few of these facial exercises to help relax tense muscles, release stress, and improve circulation:

  1. Clenched smile. Grit your teeth and open your lips as wide as they will go. Feel your lips, cheeks, chin and neck stretch to their limit. Hold ... and release. Repeat

  2. Scrunches Scrunch your face tightly. Using only your facial muscles, purse your lips, draw your cheeks in toward your nose, pull your eye brows down and bring the flesh of your chin up toward your mouth. Hold ... and release. Repeat.

  3. The Lion. Take a deep breath. All at once, exhale forcefully, open your mouth wide, stick your tongue out as far as it will go, say "Aghhhhhhh," and open your eyes wide and look up. Repeat.

  4. Cheek Pinch. Pinch your cheeks, by grabbing bits of flesh and giving them a squeeze.

The Moral of the Story

The next time you see a child making a silly face, don't be afraid to join in on the fun. They will get a kick out of it, others around may get a kick out of it, and you will probably find that, after all these years, it still is quite fun ... and funny. Plus it's safe and could even be beneficial!

To get more information about this and other highly important topics, sign up for your free subscription to our weekly "Be Safe, Live Long & Prosper" e-newsletter.

With every issue of the free newsletter, you’ll get access to the insights, products, services, and more that can truly improve your well-being, peace of mind, and therefore your life!

Share Email to a Friend Print This