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This Criminal Minds Star Was Once Legally Blind

If you're a fan of "Criminal Minds," you're undoubtedly familiar with its motley cast of characters, the FBI criminal profilers who delve into the dark psychopathologies of serial killers and various other evildoers. Unless you're a hard-core fan, though, you might not know all the sometimes-surprising aspects of the cast members' individual backgrounds, including the fascinating fact that one of the show's mainstays throughout its 15-season run was at one point in time legally blind.

You wouldn't know it from watching their performance on the show, but at one time, the actor in question had such poor eyesight that they were classified as legally blind. After a childhood marked by "thick coke bottle glasses" to correct their vision, a more recent eye operation that actually took place during the show's run eliminated the need for glasses entirely. After that, all traces of their once formidable astigmatism were completely gone, according to a magazine interview.

A.J. Cook grew up with a serious visual impairment

It all came up in an interview with the actor who plays BAU Agent Jennifer Jareau, known more casually as "JJ," A.J. Cook, who revealed this tidbit about her past in the Fall 2013 issue of Viva magazine.

Cook says that she was declared legally blind in second grade, which led to those aforementioned glasses and unfortunately, plenty of schoolyard taunting. But before her eyesight was properly examined, she tells the magazine that she was under the impression that she had a more serious problem keeping up with her schoolwork. "At first, everyone thought I had a learning disability because I couldn't read, but I couldn't see the board. It was a whole domino effect," says Cook.

As sometimes happens with children struggling in school, the issue was determined to be Cook's eyesight, and out came the big glasses in order to fix those vision problems. Eventually, during her run on "Criminal Minds," Cook says she got eye surgery to correct her astigmatism for good.