Keratoconus is an eye condition in which the shape of the cornea changes to a conical shape as opposed to the normal one with a gradual curve. It leads to blurred vision, sensitivity to light and gradual vision loss. It is NOT a rare condition and affects 1 out of every 2000 individuals, with no apparent cause.
Since Keratoconus is so common, it is easy to find yourself being a riding enthusiast AND a KC patient. I found it out 12 years ago, but decided not to let to affect my life on or off the motorcycle. In the 6 years that I have been riding now, I have done more than 50,000 kilometers, almost over entire India.
So, are Keratoconus and motorcycling, or for that matter any sort of adventure, sworn enemies? My experience says otherwise. There are many ways to mitigate the negative effects of KC to help you carry on with your life the way you please. I have worn RGPs since the last 12 years, and even with them, life doesn’t have to be a boring experience. Here are some of the ways you can get out there and get dirty, even with Keratoconus playing spoilsport:
- Goggles: The easiest solution! Spectacles and goggles provide the first line of defense against dust and grime in your eyes. RGPs and dust do not go well at all, ask my corneal opacity. I carry one dark goggles for the day, one clear goggles for the night and a pair of zero number, anti glare spectacles for office. They allow me to go anywhere at any time of the day.
- Full face helmet: If you are on a motorcycle, a full face helmet over your goggles can completely seal your eyes against any problems. I have improvised a little here and added a layer of double sided tape in between the gap of the visor and the helmet. This keeps the dust and rain out and also lets me open and close the visor as I please.
- A good cleaning solution: In my post here, I discussed the best cleaning solution for RGPs as per my experience. If you use a solution that keeps the eyes comfortable, your day is going to be so much better.
- Don’t reuse: You get no points for saving the cleaning solution. It’s job is to clean your lenses, as much quantity as it may take. Don’t keep your yesterday’s solution in the case to be used today, you can get infected.
- Don’t use old lenses: Your doctor will tell you how long you can wear one set of lenses. RGPs mostly last over 8 months with ease, but only you can be the judge of what condition they are in now. If your lenses feel uncomfortable, and even a few hours of use irritates the eyes, get a new pair. The cost of the new lenses will be worth the extra comfort.
- No eye rubbing: It is so easy to take the lenses out at the end of the day and give them a good, old-fashioned rub job. DON’T DO IT. It will give you temporary happiness, but will start a vicious cycle. You will rub your eyes, which will inflame them, which will get worse when you will wear the lenses the next day, which will cause you to rub them even more.
- Keeping a positive outlook: Keratoconus can play with your head. On most occasions, what got me through dangerous adventures is not thinking about my eyes, at all. If you think of yourself as a normal human being, who can do whatever his heart desires, that’s what you will be. Keeping yourself locked inside your room and being afraid of the world isn’t going to help.
- Keep a backup: I always keep a backup pair of lenses on my trips. The backup pair doesn’t have to be brand new, but it can’t be ages old either. So even if I lose one lens or both, I got something to get back home on.
- Keep it simple: Always put in and take out the right lens first, keep the place where you keep your stuff uncluttered. Read my experience about what a dirty cupboard can do to your eyes.
There are ways that work with Keratoconus, and then there are that don’t. Self control and will power are your most potent weapons. Use them and enjoy your life!