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Jenna Bernard, 25

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Social media handles: jbernard123

Beginning of my journey not wearing a prosthetic eye. At the gym wearing all black, brown curly hair down. Looking straight at the camera, curling a 30 pound weight.
Beginning of my journey not wearing a prosthetic eye.

Where are you from? Connecticut

Where do you live now? Boston, MA

Tell us a little about yourself:

I love to be moving! I am grateful that my job as a food scientist allows me to be on my feet for a good portion of the day. I'm an avid hiker, walker, powerlifter, skier, climber, and adventurer. I'm drawn to people and am always down for a real conversation with anyone.

What’s your eye story?

I was born with Microopthalmia, which just means “small eye”. As a baby, my left eye was much smaller than my right. My mom and dad had taken me to multiple doctors to try and figure out what was going on. Once we had the diagnosis, I started to see an ocularist and wear a prosthesis. I used to wear one anytime I was out in public, until a few years ago when wearing my eye started to consistently bother me. I was forced to keep it out during the day, which forced me to learn how to be comfortable looking different. It felt impossible at first like everyone was always staring at me and thinking I was this major outsider. However, the more I didn't wear it, the more I realized that the only person who really cared if I had a prosthesis or not, was me. I became more and more comfortable talking about what was "wrong" with my eye and what happened (or didn't). Eventually, I started to really embrace my uniqueness. In December of 2021, I decided to get a novelty eye that was based on my cat, Nala. Doing this was a huge step in my journey. It really allowed me to not only be okay with being a bit different but outwardly choose to be different. I love this part of me now. I love the conversations it has sparked with others and how it’s helped me gain the strength and confidence I need to get through this journey.

What has been the hardest thing mentally?

I was made fun of a lot when I was younger, and even a little through college. As an adolescent, that was really hard and I let the names and words get to me. I thought my worth was based on how I looked. I thought if my face couldn't look "normal" or "good" then I had to overcompensate and look better everywhere else. I started to place a lot of emphasis on my body and what I looked like, which really affected my mental health. If I was having a bad day, I would beat myself up by telling myself I didn't look good, and that I wasn't worthy of love or friendships because of that. With the inability to wear my prosthetic in recent years, there has come tremendous growth in my self-love journey. My worth isn't dependent on how I look, how I fit in, or how I think others see me anymore. It's only dependent on how I see myself.

I also had a really hard time understanding the importance of wearing glasses to protect my good eye. I didn't like how they looked and hated being judged for that. Now, although I sometimes forget, I understand why I need to wear them. I don't have as much of a problem embracing how they look, even if they are sort of funny because I’ve learned to cope with it in healthy ways. I've got to be able to laugh at myself a little bit too!

My novelty prosthetic cat eye. Outside, trees in the back ground with a face mask on, sun glasses on top of my head. Brown hair and a blue shirt
My novelty prosthetic cat eye

What has been the hardest thing physically?

Physically, it's just really stressful and draining when my prosthetic is irritating my eye socket. It comes out of nowhere, and it used to consume my thoughts. It got to the point where I couldn't focus on being present because I was only thinking about how much the prosthesis was bothering me. Now if it bothers me, I am comfortable enough to just take it out! It is still frustrating to not be able to choose when I want to wear the prosthetic or not, but at least I’m comfortable without it.

Where are you now in your recovery?

There is no recovery because I didn't have any injury to recover from. I just know now that I'm much happier and accepting of the fact that I am different.

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

You are different, yes. You will get some looks, yes. But you are also incredibly unique, and that is beautiful. Own who you are, love who you are, and know that those who love you don't care what you look like. You will come to find that even the ones who do care what you look like, don't matter. You are worthy no matter how many eyes you have.

How did you find EYEHESIVE?

An ocularist that I follow on Instagram posted about Eye Connect, and I found you through them.

My cat Nala, wearing my novelty prosthetic eye, laying on the couch smiling.
My brothers cat Bert

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