Contact lens hunt part of married life

Karl Terry

It’s a familiar request I hear in the mornings from my wife and I wasn’t surprised to hear it on my day off this week.
“Can you come here a minute,” she called from the bedroom.

I don’t even have to ask what she needs anymore — I know she’s lost a contact lens.

It’s a been a fairly frequent occurrence throughout our nearly 26 years of wedded bliss. Some mornings I even get the call twice. Friday I answered the call three times. That could be the first time that’s ever happened.

Over the years I’ve become an expert contact hunter. My record, if I had been keeping it all these years, would be something like 527-1-1.
That’s right, I’ve failed to find a lost contact only once. The other black mark, which I’m not sure I’m to blame for, is one of the hard lenses that was found, but crushed in the process.

Actually, to be fair, the first call was to remove a contact that had been placed in the wrong eye and wouldn’t come out. We have one of those little tiny suction cup plunger looking things to grab one with. I was overjoyed. I hadn’t got to use it in ages.

The wife’s eyes are super-sensitive and she can’t get the peepers to stay open or the eyeball to stay in one spot, so grabbing a contact out of her eye is a little like a video game. You have to nab it as it floats past.

I’ve never had contacts of my own because for years they couldn’t fit my prescriptions. Now they could fit my prescription but I need bifocals so I would have to wear glasses anyway. But thanks to my wife I know a lot more about contacts than most non-contact-wearers.

She started wearing contacts out of vanity. One look at the high school photos of her in the cat-eye glasses confirms it was a good decision. The bad part was she always had to wear hard contacts.

In the 1990s the optometrist diagnosed her with an eye disease called kerataconus. Her contacts became a lot more cup-shaped to fit the misshapen cornea that develops as the disease progresses.

We’ve spent literally years trying to get her fitted correctly. We’ve had one eye doctor we felt pretty good about but put her in expensive contacts that ended up scarring her cornea. Another had no patience and gave her the worst fitting ever. Another tried hard and made some progress but ended up throwing in the towel and referring us to another doctor. That guy finally nailed it and she’s seeing better than she has for years.

When she had a stroke in 2002, the therapists and nurses told us we would have to get her a pair of glasses. I told them glasses wouldn’t work for her but they said we needed to try. The eye doctor confirmed that he could try but she probably wouldn’t see very well out of them. He was right.

She continued in therapy but couldn’t improve her reading after the stroke because she couldn’t see with the glasses. Finally we decided the only thing to do was for me to learn to put the contacts in and take them out for her. The first day with her contacts in, the occupational therapist at first believed she was witness to a miraculous recovery. My wife assured her that, no, she really wasn’t seeing very well through the glasses.

She quickly got to where she could put the contacts in herself. Some mornings are better than others for stroke survivors though — that’s when my special ability for finding contacts comes in handy.

Karl Terry is managing editor at the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481, ext. 33 or e-mail: