She never lost sight of what’s important in life.
A Manchester, England, woman, who lost her eye due to a rare disease, has turned her optic disability into optimistic, comedic source material that’s gone viral on TikTok, Jam Press reported.
Despite the severity of her condition, Sarah Harris creates “skits” with her prosthetic eye that leave viewers laughing with her — but she also uses the platform to raise awareness about her illness.
The 36-year-old retail manager suffered from neurofibromatosis — a genetic condition that results in tumors forming over nerve tissue — since birth, and she’s had more than 30 surgeries in her lifetime.
On top of that, Harris was diagnosed with infantile optic glaucoma. She felt out of place growing up “different,” and said other kids would bully her, call her names and stare at her noticeable condition.
“I was called a lot of names almost every day, such as ‘Popeye’ or ‘One-eyed Jack’ which made me feel upset and annoyed,” Harris told NeedToKnow.online.
“I also had speech therapy as part of my bottom jaw didn’t form properly, and I also had a slight delay with my reading and writing.”
At age 16, she could not take the physical or emotional pain any longer. Harris chose to have her eye removed — it was, in her own words, an easy life-changing choice.
“It wasn’t really a hard decision to make, as I was in constant pain, and I was getting [regular] infections — if I left it, it would have gotten worse . . . the tumor could have spread into my brain and caused a lot more damage, as well as me going completely blind,” Harris said, adding that she was a pioneer for this type of surgery.
“The operation hadn’t been done before to this extent, as they needed to fix the issues related to me not having an eye socket.”
While a success, the aftermath was trying for Harris as well. She had to keep a pressure bandage over her newly formed eye socket for it to stay in place. She also needed a “dangerous” follow-up surgery “to implant four abutments into [her] eye.”
Half a year later, Harris finally got her prosthetic eye, which she said helped to fit in more as she “wasn’t being stared at as much.”
“It gave me confidence to apply for my first job,” she said.
Through the years, Harris began embracing her differences and would even pull pranks using the prosthetic. Once, when someone asked her to keep an eye on their drink, she literally did just that.
In that humorous spirit and to raise awareness about her conditions, Harris opted to join TikTok as sarahharris83 and make “skits” using her false eye. She has more than 117,000 followers.
In one video that’s amassed 15 million views and over 967,000 likes, Harris calls over to her prosthetic eye as it’s running away like in a Charlie Chaplin film.
More than just appreciating her sense of humor, the internet soon came to love Harris’ story and rallied in support of the English woman.
“Okay but you’re legit beautiful,” one user commented. “THIS is body positivity,” another wrote. Harris even admitted to being “surprised” by the positive responses.
“I didn’t think I would get this much response,” she said. “A lot of people became interested and started asking me questions about me, my eye, how I lost it, and so on . . . I do [TikTok] now to raise awareness, while still having fun doing it.”
That drive to have fun and educate the public is coming at a time in Harris’ life when she has another medical complication to worry over.
“I’ve currently got [a tumor] growing in my neck and cheek which is inoperable due to the complexity of how it’s wrapped around my facial nerves and blood vessels,” she said, mentioning that she fears developing osteoporosis later in life as well.
“I’ve previously had a hysterectomy, too, as I had a large fibroid tumor in my uterus which grew to the size of a 22-week fetus . . . This upset me at first, as I don’t have any children of my own.”
Despite all of this, she still makes it her mission to bring joy and medical information into the public eye — often with a smile on her face.
“Neurofibromatosis can affect people in so many different ways and while there is currently no known cure, I hope to play a role in finding this with my platform.”