When One Eye is Better Than Two – James Bonner in Australia

When One Eye is Better Than Two – James Bonner in Australia

I don’t ever remember having two eyes. I was four years old when it happened, a small accident really.

I put scissors though the skin on my eyebrow, it was when I was pulling them out that I somehow damaged my eye. Back then, it was 1949, they just whipped it out so there was no chance of disease.

People were amazed that I was always good at sport. I’d give anything a go, and was good at it all. Playing table tennis or rounders, people would say – but now can you hit that ball out to the right without that eye?

All I knew was if I saw the ball coming, I could hit it back out there. I can’t really say how I knew.

I grew up in Scotland and worked as an industrial radiographer. Back then it was called non-destructive testing. We’d use x-ray to analyse and weld metals. Otherwise you’d have to destroy a pipe by pulling it apart, to work out how to fix it.

The job took me all over the world, to Africa, the Middle East and when I was 25 a mate asked me to come out to Australia.

On the way here I picked up the book Complete Snooker for Amateurs. I liked the game in Scotland, I’d hit a ball maybe 50 times.

The place I first stayed in Perth had two full size tables. The book said step one was to buy a cue, so I did.

The next day someone said to me, you’re a good player, where’d you come from? I said, I just started playing yesterday.

I joined a club and the next month I was Club champion. Soon after that I was State Champion. Over the years I won 15 West Australian State titles,  2 National titles and I played 5 World titles.

All those years I had been good at any sport I tried, but never number one. With snooker and cue sports I’ve been in Championships every decade since the ‘60s. For me it’s been easy, never hard work.

Snooker is a sport where one eye is definitely better than two. What’s the first thing a player does lining up a tough shot? They close one eye.

One of the closest Championships I played was against another fellow with one eye. We were neck and neck all the way through, the last shot decided the winner.

I won that one while I was working on the Dongara-Perth pipeline. I was out there with nowhere to practice. Just had to show up and play the game.

Later on I owned my own Billiard Room and coached a girl through to World Championship winner.

I always tried to give back. I had years as President of the West Australian Association and many more on the Australian Council.

It’s a great non-contact sport. We made sure we had rules that kept it a gentleman’s game. The bow tie and the handshake keeps everyone equal. We kept the rules about bad behaviour tight, no matter who you were.

The Game’s difficult for most, but I’d say it’s always been good to me.


  1. When one eye is better than two on December 31, 2009 at 9:09 am

    […] a whole lot better than I do and he has contributed his story to this site. You can see his story here Thank you James for your story. If you have a story that you would like to share we would love to […]

  2. Avatar for kumar kumar on March 6, 2010 at 10:19 pm


    i was affected due to my accident in my life\\my name is kumar

    i lost my one e ye in accident during my colege days even though i studied my degree and other computer courses

    i m really sad sometime ,,,due to my lossage and i thinks hw i m going to live in this world further and pass my rest of life ,,,by readin ur story i m getting some confident .. i want to talk with u

    reply me my mail adress is skraja2009@yahoo.com

  3. Avatar for Steve Steve on April 11, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I lost my left eye when I was 4 as well. I was playing with an elastic belt and it shot back at me and destroyed my left eye. I remember going to kindergarten on the first day where all of our moms were with us, and I started rubbing my eye and it fell out. That is when school became an issue…


  4. Avatar for ellen young ellen young on November 12, 2010 at 6:34 am

    Hi there, my email is smellen8@hotmail.com.
    My left eye was taken 7 years ago TODAY! I was 14 and scared. I’m 21 now and thriving and if you’d like to talk, I have a blog and an email, even snail mail. I’m a wonderful pen pal! I like to receieve mail the old fashion way 😀

    • Avatar for Mike Mike on September 11, 2012 at 3:38 am

      Hi Ellen,
      I’m Mike. I live in Ontario. I’m 67. I lost my left eye vision in an accident 7 weeks ago. the eye is still there but blind. Emotionally, I’m a wreck. How long did it ale you to not think about total blindness. That seems to be my foremost thought. I’m on meds for depression and anxiety. It’s really hard to see any kind of future.
      Thank you

  5. Avatar for Aira Aira on November 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I was born with one shrunken eye and never had the chance to see with both eyes. Been brought up in an area where people are not ready to accept my condition and my parents never cared to bring me to see an eye specialist to find out about the problem until i was 18 when my godmum brought me to see one even though it was too late. The doctor told me that there’s nothing they can do accept for cosmetic surgery which needed me to wear an artificial eye. It took me quite sometime to think about it and i finally managed to make the artificial eye which gave me a new feeling, a new confidence that I never knew before and know the life that i’ve always wanted since small – to know what it feels like to be like others..

    However, i had never blamed my parents for that but i guess it made me more stronger and independent and i am now working and have a good life as well as a good partner who’s willing to accept me for who i am..

    After all, we have to think positively that not everyone can accept the faith, and not everyone can survive with only one eye so we have to start looking at ourselves and know that we’re special from others.

    • Avatar for ben ben on May 18, 2012 at 7:36 am

      hi Aira i am 27 years old man, i have got the same history life like you, which is i born with a condition that makes my one eye to shrink and i have lived all my life like this. however my parents were very supportive and brought me up, in the way to think i am the best and talented person in the world, actually i was i achieved every thing in life. but recently, i started to think about it, therefore, last week i make appointment with my doctor and transferred me to the eye hospital to discuss about the situation that i have, but obviously i am really scared about having artificial eye the conseconses that might occure while the operation for removing the eye. please tell how it is like to ….. keep in touch my email address is bzed37@yahoo.com

      • Avatar for rachael rachael on July 5, 2013 at 3:55 am

        I have the same condition too but I’m still young, and I’m 13 ..I want a new eye but I’m scared that the surgens will mess up …I need advice or something.

  6. Avatar for paul paul on October 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    lost my right eye 47 years ago in a shooting accident at the age of 10. it didnt stop me bieng a decent snooker player tho.i reached the british junior snooker cship final in 1974 (beat steve davis on route…lost to tony knowles in the final).was county champion umpteen times,won half a dozen pro-ams and am still quite tidy on my day. bridging over balls can be a problem,trying to hit the middle of the white.its not a disadvantage tho reallt…..

  7. Avatar for Peter Peter on June 7, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    I lost my right eye at the age of 18 months but I found all the advantages rather than brood on the disadvantges. I became a crack shot with a rifle as I didn’t have to close one eye to focus, and I got awards for the fastest first shot, etc. I can also paint tiny miniature figurines as again I can focus on them easily, wher a person with two eyes must close one and try to focus. It isn’t so bad at all.

  8. […] However, there are sports that having only one eye can be beneficial. Target sports like shooting, archery and snooker are prime examples of these. In fact, an Australian Snooker Championship was once played where both players had artificial eyes! You can read the victor of that game, James Bonner, story here. […]

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