Tim Cartledge – You Can Still See

I was 27 and I was bored one day so I rode to the beach for a surf. I was going to borrow my mate’s board. I grabbed it and walked down to Trigg Point. It was small surf of only about two feet. I caught a little wave and rode it in and jumped off and then popped my head up through the waves. Then bang the board went straight into my eye. I hadn’t felt any pull on the leg rope so I’d thought I was safe to come up. It might have even been someone else’s board. I really don’t know.

My eyelid jammed shut. I didn’t realise what had happened. I walked up the beach with my hand over my eye. A girl came up to me, she was a nurse. She took me to the doctor. He tried to open the eye but it hurt too much. Then I went to Charlie Gardiner’s Hospital. They put me under a general anaesthetic so they could look at it. I had two operations when they tried to fix it by putting the retina back in. Doctors shone lights in but I couldn’t see anything.

The doctor told me that there was a possibility the other eye might go out in sympathy so I should have this injured eye removed. I had the operation and stayed in hospital for a week and then I went home. I had a little plastic see through prosthesis for a while and then I came in and saw Margaret Geelen.

I found it difficult to adjust to single sight – being able to judge distances. It took about five years to get used to it. I am worried now about loosing the other one when I go surfing. It took me fifteen years to go back surfing but I am now learning to surf again. I haven’t got any pointy bits on my board.

Most people don’t know I have an artificial eye. They might think I’ve got a lazy eye or something. If I tell people they say, “Oh really I didn’t know.”

If I was talking to someone facing eye loss I think I’d say focus on the fact that you can still see. You haven’t lost all your vision – that is the good thing.

Reprinted with permission from Tim Cartledge. You may link to this story, but please do not copy or otherwise circulate.