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Amber Kemp, 30

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

IG @theoneeyedwarrior

Where are you from & currently live? Leicester, England

Tell us a little about yourself:

Hey, I'm Amber! I'm a super determined and motivated 30-year-old mother of three. I have my own beauty business called Beauty Spot. Leicester. I have a fire in my belly to persevere through life, regardless of life's challenges. I will always continue to strive to become a better person than I was yesterday! That is why I am also currently working on an eye project that could be very beneficial for the younger generation.

What’s your eye story?

Although I was born with a perfect set of fully functioning eyes, I am now living life with a prosthetic eye. I was just 17 years old when I was subjected to a violent, life-changing attack. I sustained blunt-force trauma to my left eye from a key. I never fully regained my eyesight and went on to undergo numerous operations and pain relief treatments. This included the continuous use of eye drops and very regular trips to the eye clinic.

Due to the nature of the incident, I went through a lot of emotional turmoil, including PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, low self-esteem, paranoia, and severe suicidal thoughts. I was so upset, angry, and bitter at the world, and at the person who had done this to me! I was fueled with hatred for such a long time.

After 12 years of my eye deteriorating and losing all remaining sight, I was still riddled with physical pain. The development of acute glaucoma, a full retinal detachment, high pressure within the eye, numerous cysts, and a hemorrhage really impacted me and was a huge hindrance in my life. It was at this point that I met with a wonderful surgeon, Joyce Burns. Upon our first meeting, we discussed having my eye removed (via evisceration) as an option to stop the severe pain I was experiencing. At first, I was distraught. I sat there and cried my eyes out as I was faced with one of my biggest fears. However, at the same time, I realized it was also a necessary step In order to stop my pain, which I was 100% willing to do.

A few days passed and I was overwhelmed with “what ifs”. These thoughts rang over and over in my head. I was petrified. What already seemed to be a turbulent journey was made worse upon discovering I was pregnant. I was advised to terminate the pregnancy due to risks and complications. However, there was zero chance I was willing to cut loose a teeny tiny, but mighty joyous part of me. The thought literally sickened me to my core. This only further fueled my hatred for the person who did this to me. I felt as though I couldn't comprehend all of what had already happened, let alone what was about to come.

On September 3, 2020, at 14 weeks + 2 days pregnant, I underwent eye removal surgery. When I awoke, there was this feeling of instant relief, as though someone had pulled a plug from me. All the negativity that had manifested over the years, and all of my physical and emotional pain seemed to have just drained right out of me. For the first time EVER, I felt completely different about what had happened. I no longer wanted revenge or wished my perpetrator the same fate. I fully accepted my situation for what it was... MY SITUATION. It was from that point on that I realized the only way for me to move forward was to let go of all my past suffering. Shortly after my eye removal, I met with my ocularist Zoe from the Artificial Eye Clinic to discuss the process of having a prosthetic eye made.

After my attack, I was left with a changed appearance to my eye. However, now that it had just been removed, it finally dawned on me that I was never going to look or feel like the 17-year-old girl I once was. And that was ok. I knew in order for me to fully accept myself, and embrace the situation, I had to be different and stand out. I didn't want to have a prosthetic eye made that looked like my natural eye, so I opted for a striking pink glittery eye, as well as a beautiful blue natural-looking eye.

As the days and weeks went on, I grew stronger, more confident, and more determined. I slowly started to regain a happy and fulfilled life with my family. I then gave birth to my third child, a beautiful and healthy baby boy. He really was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Given that he was able to survive my journey within me, I named him Ivan (eye-van) Blu, which is made more special given he has eyes as blue as the ocean.

There have been many ups and downs in my journey, but this is what I like to call a bitter-sweet scenario. Thankfully, this journey has enabled me to re-invent myself as someone who can be more of a positive role model, and help guide others in similar situations. To me, it is so important to raise awareness for eye loss and pave the way in a society where no one is to feel like a misfit or ugly because of their differences. We are all resilient, we are all strong, we are all beautiful in our own right, and should embrace our differences because they are what makes us unique.

What has been the most challenging thing mentally?

I'd say learning to love myself for who I am. Self-love is so important for all of us! Genuinely loving yourself on the days you consider yourself to be a monster can be a real challenge.

The other thing I seem to struggle with is the gossip and comments made behind your back. Outside people can be so damaging to your mental health. I'm still learning how to navigate this, but I know growing an extra thick layer of skin and taking other people's ignorance on the chin helps.

What has been the most challenging thing physically?

Physically I do struggle with my depth perception at times, which can make driving a little tricky. I mean my first car, Sally McQueen, bless her, took a little beating! For that reason, I've chosen to not drive when it's dark or when it's heavily raining. I also haven't ridden a pushbike since my attack as I'm worried I'll crash into someone or something.

What piece of advice would you give to someone going through their eye journey?

Honestly, you have to learn self-love! If you can't love yourself for who you are then no one will! Learn to embrace the journey and just roll with it. Yes, there will be days you feel the lowest of the low, and that's OK. Generally speaking, I believe we get out of life what we put in, so manifest all things good and positive 🙏

Who is your eye surgeon and ocularist?

Eye surgeon- Joyce Burns and I've used two ocularists both from the Artificial Eye Clinic - Zoe and Dan

[Edited for clarity by @kfitz89]

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