Mark Singleton – Smiley Eye

I lost my eye to melanoma in 1999. Right from the start, I didn’t feel negative about it. It was one particular nurse who helped me to see the positives. She came into my room the day after I’d had my surgery and said: “How’s it going, Dick?” The next day, she came back and said the same thing, “How’s it going, Dick?”. On the third day, I asked her why she was calling me Dick. Her answer was that all Dicks have one eye, so why be grumpy about it. She made me see that there was no point being sad just because my eye wasn’t there anymore.

My first artificial eye was just a normal one, the same colour as my real eye. But my daughter-who was about four or five at the time – gave me a bit of advice.

“You should have something different, Dad,” she said.

So I got myself a smiley eye. Instead of the iris, I have a yellow smiley face 🙂 outlined in black with black eyes, nose and mouth.

It’s me now. I wear it everywhere. Everyone knows me as having a smiley eye. I live in Port Hedland and sell Caterpillar parts. If I turn up at work with my normal eye in, everyone stares at me and says, “What’s changed?”. They send people to see the guy with the smiley eye.

When I first had my eye removed, people treated me a bit differently. One sales rep would come in to work and stand in front of me, staring at the ground, not able to look at me. So I’d bend down so that I could look him in the eye to show him I was normal.

My kids had great fun taking advantage of my monocular vision. They’d set off helium balloons in the house, the ones with those long streamers, and ask me to catch them. I couldn’t grab the dangling ends of the streamers. One of my daughters, who is into BMX, got me to ride with her on the track to get her used to the pushing and shoving that goes on. She’d swing up on my blind side and shove me, sending me over the edge. Then she’d laugh madly and point me out to everyone there. I don’t do BMX riding anymore.

Kids at shopping centres love my smiley eye. They sit there in trolleys and stare at me. I open my eye right up and wink at them. They say, “Look Mum! Look at his eye!”. They get told not to stare, but I tell them it’s okay.

I never have any problems with people being rude. When I go to the pub, I take my normal eye in my pocket to show people if they ask. I don’t take my smiley eye out because it’ll get dirty.

I’ve just been to Perth to Paul and Jenny to have a new eye made. On the way, I said to my wife that I’d just go for a white eye this time. She turned to me and said, “No way. You can’t change. Everyone knows you as smiley eye”. So that was that. My new smiley eye is a bit more colourful. It has the yellow smiley face in the centre, blending into blue around the edges.