The Blog

Losing the Sight of an Eye

Losing an eye is no big deal.

Do they still tell you to wear clean knickers in case you get run over by a bus? Well I did and I was. Long time ago now, but my experience might be helpful to those facing the loss of sight in one eye.

It was my oldest friend's birthday. She had a habit of wandering the globe and had touched down like a butterfly on a buddleia to celebrate in London. Unfortunately it was also Friday night - my exhaustion night- and I had a new job which rendered me almost catatonic. But I went. We dined in Fulham - I was too tired to eat and drank a couple of glasses of white wine, no more.

Later, we were on the pavement, milling like sheep, and I, desperate for my bed, started to cross the road without enough care and attention. What followed was a blow to the head so hard that it knocked the memory out of me and the sight out of my left eye. Lots of blood, tyre marks on my pink tights, smashed bus windscreen. My poor friends, worse for them spectating.

I awoke in a small side ward, with very little idea of what I was doing there and tried to get out of bed, whereupon I fainted on the floor. Someone told me that I had been hit by a bus, and that I had a problem with my left eye, and my first and only thought was, 'How lucky I am that I am not dead.' It felt like a miracle. I have never lost that thought since.

I was rushed into surgery to see if they could save the sight. My mother was shattered by it all and wept in the chapel. Later she told me she had been in despair, but felt a hand on her shoulder and a voice saying, 'but she's all right'. No one was there.

In intensive care, the surgeon came and sat beside me like a tatty crow on a branch. Abruptly, do you have any questions? Yes, I said, will I look peculiar? Well, he said, it might start wandering around a bit, in which case we can take it out and give you a glass one.

If you say anything like that to my mother, I will kill you, I mentioned. You can say that sort of thing when you've had a blow to the head.

Everyone I ever knew came through that side ward. It was like being Agatha Runcible in Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies. A very happy ten days of my life oddly; an endless party and me not having to be responsible for anything or anyone. It made me feel real. I recovered quite quickly after that. My face, some of which I had left on the Fulham Road, healed so fast it was almost bizarre. There's only one tiny scar in my left eyebrow.

As for losing the sight in an eye, it's no big deal. In fact it is one of the least troublesome things to lose, as our eyes are positioned on the front of our rather flat faces and separated by our not very large noses. There is only a tiny segment of sight missing to the far left, and you can always turn your head. I passed my driving test about six months later. There are no restrictions on my activities, and my other eye works fine. Sometimes polite people hover on my left, thinking I am ignoring them, but I usually warn people. It is the least interesting thing about me. It does wander a bit, after so long with nothing to focus on, but I don't mind.

So, if anyone is facing losing the sight of an eye, let me comfort and reassure you. No one did this for me, and I was very worried until I found out for myself that it's no big deal. There was a very short period of missing the cup with the teapot and the glass with the wine, before my brain caught up and reminded me how to see in three dimensions, even if I wasn't really.