Originally published in NKCF Update (May 2022)
“In our town, football was an important part of growing up. In elementary school, I was an enthusiastic and – thankfully – relatively oversized linebacker. I wore thick glasses and when I took them off to play or practice, I was not always sure of what I was looking at. I remember just trying to stop anything that had a different color jersey.“Freshman year of high school, in 1972, I got my first set of soft contact lenses and everything changed. I remember how satisfying it was to intercept a ball that I could actually track as it came toward me.
“Through college, I participated in sports, and majored in Business, graduating with an MBA. My eyesight was far from perfect, but I got by with contact lenses. After graduation, I moved to Boston to begin my career. Shortly after my move, I found a new eye doctor and scheduled an annual visit. The doctor completed the exam and then asked, ‘Do you rub your eyes?’ I had never been asked that before. After thinking about it, I told him yes. I remember being 4 years old and rubbing my knuckles into my eyes. It felt good and I was amazed by the colors produced in rubbing my eyes.
“So, at age 24, I heard the word ‘keratoconus’ for the first time and learned I had a progressive eye disease. My new eye doctor described my condition and told me my eyesight could continue to deteriorate. I was warned to stop rubbing my eyes. In those days, the disease was one of watching and waiting.
“Forty years later, I’ve started and owned several international businesses. I have been lucky that my vision changes have never been so severe they couldn’t be managed by a change in my contact lenses. For the past several years, I’ve worn Boston XO RGP (rigid gas permeable) lenses.”
Jim admits that keratoconus may have demanded a few concessions over the years.
“When I visit manufacturing facilities, I am very sensitive to the dust and particles in the air and try to limit time on a factory floor. And I find that I probably end the day a little earlier than I might if I did not have KC. My eyes get tired after long hours of wearing contacts. I also risk getting a headache if I do not take regular breaks. I know I wear my contact lenses more hours than my doctor would like, but I have learned how much I can push myself before my productivity and my eye health suffers.”