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Valeria Yánez- Villarroel, 33

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Social media handles: @valerianacocina

Where are you from?

Valeria's eye removal, short black hair and a black jacket taking a selfie without her prosthetic eye. One eye, eye removal surgery, eye injury, glaucoma
Valeria's eye removal

Venezuela


Where do you live now?

Canada

Tell us a little about yourself:

I was born and raised in Venezuela. I relocated to Canada by myself when I was 25 years old. I like biking, gardening, and going to drag shows.

What’s your eye story?

I had an accident with a screwdriver when I was one year old. The screwdriver pierced my left eye causing a lot of damage. I was sent into emergency surgery which took several hours. In the end, I was able to keep my left eye, but my vision forever changed.


I developed glaucoma after the accident, which meant I would gradually start losing the little remaining vision I had. Despite having undergone five eye surgeries to try to save my vision, I still lost all sight in my left eye when I was 12 years old. I was left with a bluish eye with a white scar in the middle, which became my identity until I was twenty-four years old.


After so many years with a blind eye with glaucoma, my left eye became so hypersensitive and painful that I decided to have it removed. I just wanted the pain out of my life. This is when I underwent my sixth surgery, an evisceration.


I moved to Canada a few months after getting my prosthetic eye. New eye, new life! Lol However, that was not my last surgery. I also underwent an implant exposure surgery two years ago.


What has been the most challenging thing mentally?

When I decide to remove my eye, I was so excited and focused on getting rid of the pain that was being caused by glaucoma, it never really occurred to me that losing my blueish, scarred, weird eye would feel like losing part of my identity, or would affect me so much psychologically. It took me a long time and a ton of therapy to accept my new image. Seeing my two eyes looking the same, with the same color, and appearing “normal” was a very weird experience.


What has been the most challenging thing physically?

I’ve been monocular since a very young age, so let's say I’ve become a master of gaging depth perception situations lol. I am a completely functional human being. I drive, I go on adventures, and I have no physical limitations whatsoever!


Well, except for watching 3d movies, that’s not something that keeps me awake at night.

Admittedly, I am clumsy for sure. Lacking depth perception sometimes makes you do silly stuff while performing the simplest tasks, like pouring water into a glass, going downstairs fast, or playing badminton, but in the end, you get used to it.


Where are you now in your recovery?

I am fully recovered! However, I do still have some psychological struggles. Going to the ocularist for reglazing or even just taking my prosthetic out is usually very triggering.


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

You’re not a freak. Healing takes time. You’re not the only one, it is a lot of us! Reach out, and tell your story.

Who is your eye surgeon and ocularist?

My former, lovely ophthalmologist from back home, Dr. Nancy Rodriguez. She saw me grow up and we are still in touch. I’ve had lots of other surgeons, but Dr. Rodriguez is the OG. My current ocularist, Matthew Milne, is great! He is so patient and cares so so much!

Valeria's wearing an eye patch, black eye patch.
Valeria's wearing an eye patch

How did you find EYEHESIVE?

On one of those monocular groups on Facebook ☺️


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