Siobhan Meade column: Goodbye eye, I muttered as surgeons sent me to sleep

Siobhan Meade with her former guide dog Mac.Picture: James Bass

Siobhan Meade with her former guide dog Mac.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

“Goodbye eye.” These were among the last words I muttered to myself as the world’s leading ophthalmic surgeons sent me to sleep in Moorfields Eye Hospital.

I had my right eye removed in 2014 and replaced with a much healthier looking prosthetic eye but somehow, I just couldn’t psychologically bring myself to losing both eyes at once.

Regular readers may know I have had no perception of light since 1999 when, at the age of 16, I collided with a door at school robbing me of my poor partial sight. I didn’t have good vision prior to my accident having a myriad of eye conditions.

I had no sight in my left eye when born with congenital cataracts. Surgeons operated and sliced through my second cranial nerve, otherwise known as the optic nerve. They also removed the lens from my other eye meaning what was left is probably too restricted for any fully sighted person to conceive.

But the injustice of circumstance continued for me as both blind eyes saw my eye pressure rise beyond dangerous levels and a constant pain that frankly made me feel sick and irritable most of the time.

I’ve tried all other options but eventually I knew it was a pure calculation between keeping my remaining painful blind eye or giving up on any hope of a decent quality of life.

None of this is to say it was an easy decision. The lifelong consequences will mean light and melatonin will not enter my eye and I may need to synthetically introduce this. The structure of my eye socket may also wither in later years and future corrective procedures may be necessary.

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The biggest consequence for me as a woman though is feeling even more different to everyone else. I’ve grappled with the worry that people will look at me, that I would somehow feel less attractive.

I’ve cried myself to sleep before and after the operation even through the post procedure pain, feeling like some kind of Frankenstein creation but now a small smile spreads across my pain-stricken face knowing the work that is going into preparing a new prosthetic eye is being done by the world’s finest.

The truth is that my face and eyes will look even better than ever before and I’m positively embracing the thought of welcoming my new eye in to the world and into my life.