Hillary Clinton’s Lyin’ Eyes
Long ago in 1976, Bill Clinton was elected Arkansas attorney general, launching his political career and that of his ambitious wife. One year earlier, The Eagles released their hit song “Lyin’ Eyes”. Little did Don Henley and Glenn Frey know that their popular song and Hillary Clinton would have a synchronous moment 40 years later during her presidential campaign.
The lyrics, “You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes” at one level, fits Mrs. Clinton’s life story and political history quite accurately and at another level provides a glimpse into her current health and suitability to serve as president. From the early days in the White House, Mrs. Clinton told lies about Whitewater, missing Rose Law Firm billing records, the White House travel office, and her husband’s trysts. She continued in later years with a second round of lies about being dead broke when leaving the White House, landing under Bosnian sniper fire, being named after Sir Edmund Hillary, and being turned down by the Marines. Round three of her lies are more recent, including Benghazi, her emails, and now her health.
The last issue, her health, has become a major campaign issue. Over the past few weeks, videos have surfaced of Mrs. Clinton’s bizarre eye movements and their health implications. Despite all of her previous lies, this time she won’t be able to hide her “Lyin’ eyes.”
Her uncoordinated eye movements are just the latest of a string of medical concerns. Facial tics and spasms, needing assistance going up a short flight of steps, four-minute coughing fits, and her famous 9/11 collapse. This collapse was blamed on pneumonia which Mrs. Clinton miraculously recovered from a few hours later. Her personal physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, assures an apprehensive electorate, “She continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as President of the United States."
What about Mrs. Clinton’s eye gyrations, reminiscent of Regan from The Exorcist? This started in 2012 when she fell, suffered a concussion and brain hemorrhage, treated with Coumadin, a powerful blood thinner. Not just a bump on the head, but instead “a terrible concussion that required six months of very serious work to get over” according to her husband former president Bill Clinton.
Her blood clot was actually a cerebral venous thrombosis, a blood clot in one of the sinuses that collects blood draining from the brain. Potentially life threatening, this can occur following trauma or due to an increased blood clotting tendency in the body, hence her continued use of Coumadin.
Long-term complications include seizures, visual deficits, muscle weakness, spasticity, and memory deficits. These are all complications that may be inferred through watching recent videos of Mrs. Clinton.
Her crossed eyes were first evident during her Congressional testimony about Benghazi. Photos show her wearing Fresnel prisms in her eyeglasses, used to correct eye misalignment and double vision. That was four years ago. What about her recent crossed eyes?
Each eye has six muscles attached, controlling eye movement up, down, diagonally, and rotationally. These muscles are innervated by three cranial nerves which originate in the brain stem, which lies between the brain and spinal cord, and then travel upward to the eyes. These nerves are easily damaged by trauma or compression from brain swelling or hemorrhage.
Cerebral venous thrombosis may damage cranial nerves. Not only those controlling eye movement, but also facial muscles, inner ear balance, throat muscles affecting speech, swallowing, and coughing. Remember some of Mrs. Clinton’s facial tics and prolonged coughing episodes?
After damage, the nerves try to heal themselves. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Synkinesis describes the latter situation. Rather than the injured nerves reconnecting properly, they may get mixed up and reestablish the wrong connections. Meaning that when the brain tells one eye to look left, it may look right instead. Or up. Or down.
Other nerves may also be rewire incorrectly. Suppose the facial nerve, controlling smiling, chewing, and facial expressions, mistakenly shares nerve fibers with the nerves controlling eye movement. Speaking to an audience using facial expressions may cause the eyes to move in unintended directions.
This is speculation. As an ophthalmologist and physician, I can observe, think, and make deductions. But not as Mrs. Clinton’s doctor, who would have the benefit of her complete medical history and a detailed ocular and neurologic examination.
Abnormal eye movements are not uncommon. Called strabismus, many people have a crossed eye due to a previous eye injury, surgery, or a childhood lazy eye. Some elderly individuals, particularly diabetics, have small strokes of the nerves controlling eye movement, leading to a strabismus.
Mrs. Clinton, however, has more than a crossed eye. She has a complicated medical history including severe concussion, blood clot, chronic Coumadin therapy, and a host of other concerning signs such as possible seizures, balance issues, collapsing, and her coughing fits.
I’m not rendering a definitive diagnosis. Apart from what I described above, other possibilities have been put forth including Parkinson’s disease and brain cancer. Regardless of the actual diagnosis, it doesn’t take a physician to realize that something is wrong with her health.
Are these legitimate concerns regarding a potential president? CNN is fretting over Donald Trump being overweight with a high cholesterol reading. Big whoop. Over a third of Americans are obese according to the CDC. I’m quite certain that if Mr. Trump collapsed, needed help up a few steps, had a four-minute coughing fit, or had intermittent crossed eyes, the media would be hyperventilating and talking about nothing else.
Eight years ago, John McCain’s health was much discussed by the media with regard to his age and history of melanoma. Was he too old? Could his cancer return? Only four years older when he was seeking the nomination than Mrs. Clinton is now, one thought the grim reaper was sitting atop his shoulder.
Yet those questioning Mrs. Clinton’s health are conspiracy kooks, part of the “vast right wing conspiracy”, card-carrying members of “The Deplorables”, called “healthers” as the new “birthers”. Mrs. Clinton is not running for Chappaqua town council, but for commander in chief of the United States. Her health is a legitimate concern. Despite her “Lyin’ Eyes”.
Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, is a Denver based retina surgeon, radio personality, and writer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.