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I NEEDED this!

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Words from the community who attended:

Admit one ticket for EYE CONNECT, visual impairment. prothetic eye conference, one eye gang
Admit one ticket for EYE CONNECT

“I 100% enjoyed the conference. I’ve never attended anything like this and wish I had something like this for myself and my parents years ago. Thank you for creating something so wonderful for the community.”

“I was hesitant at first. Besides occasionally making it known in social situations that I’m a cancer survivor, I never like to openly talk about my eye. If someone asks I can speak about it, but I wanted to attend the conference to normalize that type of conversation for myself.”

“Such a beautiful day with some of the most incredible people!!”

“Had the most empowering day attending the Eyeconnect virtual conference. Finding a community of people who have gone through the same trials as I have has been so amazing. Listening to the speakers and bonding with the other attendees over our insecurities/challenges was such a powerful and life-changing experience. I'm so thankful I've found a place where I am heard and understood. Knowing I'm not alone on this journey is something I hope I never forget. I. Am. Beautiful.”

“#eyeconnect was incredible. As many others said, 12-year-old me was happy crying the whole time. Let's be honest, 37-year-old me was tearful as well.”

“Connecting with people from around the world with eye loss or vision impairment. Such an empowering 3 hours at a conference talking & listening to some motivational speakers who have been through similar. Biggest thank you to these lovely ladies @shelbs_90 @genellgorman & the creation of @eyehesive for reminding us all that we are one of many & our uniqueness is what makes us who we are. What a wonderful community we have & I'm so grateful to be a part of it!”

“Great content and conversations for all, not just for the one-eyed community.”

“I was hoping to meet people who've shared similar life experiences as mine and to hear their stories. I was hoping to share some of my insecurities as well. This was a healing experience to an extent. I received what I was hoping for.”

1- What were you hoping to receive from the conference?

“To connect with others in similar situations as me. Other than my ocularist I haven’t met (that I know of) or really talked with someone else who wears a prosthetic.”

  • Did you receive what you were wanting? “Yes”

On October 8, 2022, we held what turned out to be a very powerful virtual conference called EYE CONNECT. This conference lasted six hours and had six prominent speakers within the community. Two speakers were ocularists and one was an optometrist. This conference was held for the community below:

  • You were involved in a traumatic accident that resulted in the loss of your eye.

  • You are a survivor of Retinoblastoma, Ocular Melanoma, Glaucoma, etc.

  • You had a disease or infection that resulted in the loss of sight in one or both of your eyes.

  • You were born with an underdeveloped eye.

  • You were born without either or only one of your eyes and or blind.

  • You are a caregiver with a child who has an eye prosthetic or is about to go through surgery for their eye to be removed.

  • You are an ocularist who is interested in how to better assist your patients emotionally.

  • You are a friend or family member of someone who has experienced any of the above and is looking to better support them in their journey.

To only say it was a success would minimize the experience! We covered these topics below:

  • How to overcome obstacles and challenges while living with a prosthetic(s).

  • How to overcome bullying and self-consciousness at ANY age.

  • How to discover and find self-love within yourself through self-acceptance. (Self-Love Workshop).

  • Cultural stigma, conditioning, and breaking generational trauma patterns.

  • Learn the entire process of how a prosthetic is made, in addition to the importance of looking for the right ocularist.

  • How the prosthetic journey gets better - Tips and tricks for inspiration and creativity on your journey. Pursuing dreams, accomplishing goals, and not giving up despite being visually impaired.

  • The importance of comprehensive eye exams, preventative measures to maintain the health of remaining vision, etc.

I was one of the hosts and organizers of this conference. My headspace was in planning, promoting, sending emails, making content, reaching out, and connecting with people for months prior. I thought of everything that could possibly go wrong during the conference. Speakers not showing up, NO ONE showing up, technical issues, poor scheduling, etc… I also have one eye and I knew that this conference was something I needed and wanted as an individual. However, I REALLY didn’t grasp how much I NEEDED this conference until I was in a virtual room with 30 other individuals who also needed this.

The connections were so strong, the way we interacted and engaged with each other. The way we

shared our stories, our experiences, our strength, and our hope. I was so emotional the entire time.

When we did the self-love workshop and we did mirror work by looking into a mirror and really observing our faces, our eyes, and our prosthetic eyes. We said words of affirmation to ourselves knowing that we were not alone in that room. We were supported, loved, and understood. I couldn’t believe how people opened up, got vulnerable, how we cried, laughed, and sometimes even sat in silence for a moment.

I lead a couple of guided meditations to ground everyone into the space. Meditation is a tool I use daily for myself and I love to share that with others.

The PDF workbook had a variety of thought-provoking questions and tools to help keep us engaged. Something I will look back on in a month, a year, and even years from now!

As I reflect on this experience I realized I often block out my own trauma of having my eye removed. I dove straight into helping others and showing up for them. As that was the only way I knew how to process all of it at the time. This really provided me the space to heal more of the trauma I endured but didn’t realize I hadn’t healed yet. I also learned to take the time to celebrate myself for showing up for me!

So I want to say thank you so much for joining our inaugural EYE CONNECT virtual conference! Your support is greatly appreciated and will always be remembered! - Stay in touch as we will be launching virtual community support groups soon, “mini” EYE CONNECT conferences throughout the year, and of course this one annually.

Our mission with the Eye Connect Virtual Conferences is to create a safe space of connection, support, and healing for those impacted by visual impairment. Eye Connect allows others the opportunity to be seen in their true authentic self and come together as a community. - I think we hit our mission! :)

If you missed the LIVE event, no worries! You can now purchase the 4-hour recording of the conference! Jam-packed with tools on how to overcome obstacles and bullying with your prosthetic eye, experience the amazing self-love workshop, step-by-step information about the prosthetic eye process, and how to keep your vision healthy! Watch all the speaker presentations, and witness the Q & A. Click shop above to purchase the recording!

Virtual Conference EYE CONNECT- One eye, vision impaired, prosthetic eye wearers

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