ESPN reporter caught on camera berating a tow truck employee last year now says the stress of it all has damaged her eyesight
- ESPN sports reporter Britt McHenry was filmed berating a tow truck employee in April 2015 after her car was towed from an Arlington restaurant in Virginia
- Surveillance footage captured the 28-year-old mocking Advanced Towing employee Gina Michelle's weight, teeth and supposed lack of education
- 'Lose some weight, baby girl,' the reporter told her as she walked away
- McHenry apologized after the security footage surfaced online but the video sparked a major social media backlash
- ESPN also considered firing her although she escaped with a week's suspension
- McHenry now claims the stress of the incident has damaged her eyesight
- She was diagnosed with CSR, often due to trauma or extreme stress, which causes blurry vision in her right eye
- Doctors say her vision may never be fully restored, the sports reporter claims
A glamorous ESPN reporter who was suspended last year after footage emerged of her cruelly belittling a tow truck employee says the stress of the scandal has damaged her eyesight.
Britt McHenry unleashed a torrent of abuse on Advanced Towing employee Gina Michelle last year, after her car was towed while she was eating dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Arlington, Virginia.
Surveillance footage captured the 28-year-old mocking Michelle's weight, teeth, supposed lack of education and her job during the confrontation in April 2015.
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Vision loss: Britt McHenry was suspended from ESPN for one week for the offensive rant against a tow truck employee. She now claims the incident damaged her sight
The incident sparked a huge social media backlash against McHenry, while ESPN weighed up whether to fire the disgraced TV reporter until she took to Twitter to apologize for her 'hurtful actions'. Eventually she was just given a one-week suspension.
Now the Washington D.C.-based sports reporter claims that the stress of dealing with a 'tornado of vulgar and sexist insults' online after the scandal has damaged her eyesight.
She said that she noticed that the vision in her right eye had become blurry and the eye itself looked cloudy.
'I went to a retinal specialist, who diagnosed me with CSR, a condition in which vision is impaired, often due to trauma or extreme stress,' McHenry told Marie Claire.
Vicious: ESPN reporter Britt McHenry was caught on camera ranting at an Advanced Towing employee in Arlington, Virginia. She claims the abuse she received in response left her sick
Unhappy customer: Britt McHenry was also filmed leaving the towing company and flipping the bird to the cameras
The reporter said that medication did not work to alleviate the problem so she was forced to undergo a series of injections directly into her eye to try to and restore vision and prevent further damage.
WHAT IS CENTRAL SEROUS RETINOPATHY (CSR)?
Central serous retinopathy (CSR) causes a blister-like swelling in layers of the retina.
It happens when fluid is allowed to build up under the retina and eventually distort vision. CSR usually affects just one eye at a time.
Stress is a major risk factor of CSR, with some studies suggesting that people with aggressive, 'type A' personalities under stress are far more likely to develop the condition.
Other risk factors include use of steroids, caffeine and hypertension sufferers.
Most cases of CSR clear up within a couple of months on their own.
But sufferers with severe vision loss, or leakage can be helped by laser treatment or photodynamic therapy to seal the leak and restore vision.
Most people regain good vision even without treatment although not the same standard they enjoyed before. Half of patients will have CSR return.
'The first time I watched the needle approach my eye (yes, you're awake for this!), I broke down, halting the process until I could regain my composure. I was a wreck, not so much because of the injection, but because of what had brought me to that point,' she said.
'The doctor says the vision in my eye might never improve.'
Online petitions for McHenry to be fired reached 10,000 within a day of the footage being released.
The verbal attack on April 6, 2015, was captured on a security camera as she paid to pick the vehicle up at the tow lot office, where clerk Gina Michelle was standing behind the counter.
'I'm in the news, sweetheart, I will f*****g sue this place,' McHenry can he heard saying in the video.
Michelle can be heard warning McHenry she is being filmed and threatens to 'play your video'.
McHenry seemed unfussed, responding: 'That's why I have a degree and you don't - I wouldn't work in a scumbag place like this.
'Makes my skin crawl even being here.'
The parking attendant patiently replied: 'Well lets get you out of here quickly.'
McHenry then fired back: 'Yep, that's all you care about - taking people's money…with no education, no skill set. Just wanted to clarify that.'
Originally from New Jersey, McHenry is a sideline reporter for ESPN based in Washington D.C. Pictured left is Gina Michelle, the clerk abused by McHenry
After a few more comments, including telling the woman she doesn't have a brain, McHenry delivered her biggest sting.
'Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh?' she says.
'Cos' I'm on television and you're in a f******g trailer, honey.'
Finally, before walking away, McHenry says: 'Lose some weight, baby girl.'
McHenry claims that video of the incident was 'edited, making it look like I was the one doing all the talking.'
But she admits that she out of line and that the comments will 'forever be something I'm embarrassed about and will regret.'
'I blame myself for all of this,' she said at the time. 'But the video is not who I am.'
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