A woman who lost sight in one eye in a childhood accident says having cosmetic surgery to give herself a more “able appearance” has made her feel “conflicted” at times.
Charlotte Eyres, 22, was hit by a stomp rocket at a barbecue when she was eight years old.
She ended up with a detached retina and a squint because she couldn’t see out of her right eye.
“It was a moment in time that changed everything,” she explained.
Ms. Eyres, from Congresbury in north Somerset, went on to pursue an acting career, but at the age of 17, she decided to have surgery to correct her squint, which she still regrets.
Her parents were “terrified” after the accident, she said.
“They got me to wear squash goggles for a couple of years at school.
“I had to wear them for activities like forest school and sport, even if it was bean-bag throwing.”
She found humor in those and other situations, such as people holding up their fingers in front of her eyes to “prove” she was blind.
Her injured eye could not be repaired after her first operation.
“It was the start of the summer holidays and straight after [the operation]I had to lie down for 50 minutes of every hour for the first week,” she said.
She said she “just got on with it” and the hospital appointments felt “normal” because her dad, Jonathan, who has genetic condition Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, which affects his joints and mobility, was in and out of hospital “all the time”.
“That summer we sat down for the opening of the Beijing Olympics and dad’s got a broken shoulder, I’ve got a black eye, and mum’s got wine,” she added.
‘I just sobbed’
Ms. Eyres was 14 years old when she was told by a casting agent that she would not be cast because of her squint.
“They said it in a protective way, that because of my eye I wouldn’t be suited to TV, but maybe in the future there may be a surgery I can have,” she said.
“I was 14 and had had a lot of surgery already. I just sobbed…
“Suddenly you’re seeing your whole life ahead of you so out of control and it was a moment in time that just changed everything.”
She was accepted into the National Youth Theatre aged 16 and said it felt like her eye “didn’t affect me”.
“But it was always in the back of my mind it could hinder success because I was never seeing anyone on TV with a squint or visual impairment,” she added.