A barn is a great place to be raised, but for a pre-teen with the contact lenses of the 1970s it caused a few problems: four to be exact.
When I scratched my cornea the first time, Dr. I. tsked and scolded me: I had to be more careful washing my hands and not rubbing my eyes.
“Can I still ride with this?” was all I really wanted to know.
“Sure you can, but will you be able to see?”
That was a good question. Two good eyes are needed for depth perception, especially when judging distances to a jump.
“Sure. I’ll be able to see. Plus, my horse has eyes.”
This sounds like bravado, and it was. When I was at a horse show, I paid very close attention to my trainer when he said how many strides we should be getting. I watched other horses go and imagined myself jumping the same course with my mare.
But the eye hurt. It burned and it did all sorts of unsavory things until it healed. And Bam! On went the contact lens and Bam! The other cornea was scratched.
Dr. I was most unhappy.
“Now, child, I told you to be careful…you’re not going to stop riding, are you?”
“Well, wash your hands.”
Cold water and darkness were what felt best to my eyes. I had to wear the ugly glasses. Whenever I saw pictures of myself, my confidence waned.
My parents insisted that I wear photo-gray lenses that changed color according to the amount of light available. I thought they were kind of cool – when I didn’t have to wear them at a competition.
All told, I scratched my corneas four times in two or three years. My eyes hurt so much – and I refused to tell my parents – that I started to close my eyes slowly at the top of a fence. I did it on purpose and only when I had a very clear mental picture of what was going on.
Even now, when I see a picture with my eyes closed, I feel my eyes water a bit.