Expanding the Question, Contact Lenses While Riding

Training Journal

If you’re riding a horse, you’ve already won.

Awareness of the outside world. Lion’s Club: Eyeglass Recycling Centers. I know nothing about this program other that what is here and what I see on the signs at my eye docs. Internet lists several more, although at least one has paused for the moment. Bottom line, I need to go through my drawers & find all those old readers. The ones that accumulated as I climbed upped the magnification chart!

Picture mainly for visual appeal. Glasses still worn, dressage, mid-2019. [Worth 1000 Words]

Yesterday I talked about why I stopped wearing glasses when I ride. One person mentioned contacts. Several others weighed in. [I See That]


I know people wear contacts. I never thought of it as something that applied to me. Dunno why.

I am opening the floor to discussion of contacts while riding. What say you?

Problems mentioned yesterday in the comments were dry eye syndrome (not me) and adjustment period (so me).

Benefits discussed yesterday were durability, better in a barn environment, and better with distances.

Pros? Cons?

My medical advisor doesn’t think I would like contacts. He’s worn glasses for many, many years and has known me for almost as long (there’s a weird thought). Although, he admits that he wasn’t diligent about their care, which may have affected their comfort, which may be coloring his opinion.

To be clear, my problem is not with the variable focus of progressives, although that figures in a bit. The dramatic difference in focus comes from looking through the glasses and then looking off to the side, not through the glasses. Single distance lenses won’t fix that.

No glasses. This was me for years. Ride off into the sunset.

Mandatory Glasses. Your choice is frames or contacts.

Semi-Mandatory Glasses. This is where I am now. While no glasses means I can’t see to read on horseback, I can see anything larger than a phone screen. My choice is frames, contacts, or nothing.

In writing yesterday’s post, I searched for pictures of me wearing glasses on a horse. I got glasses in May of 2016. I was surprise to find that the first show photo of me wearing glasses was late 2017. I can’t remember a) why I didn’t show in them or b) why I started showing in them. Looks? Convenience? [New Glasses]

I know I wore them for navigating. Bought a bright pink safety strap. [Shopping Spree]

Still wasn’t enough to read the data sheet taped to the darn cart. [Show Report ICDE]

I also bought a black strap for pleasure driving. Carts be bouncy.

Distances. Not a problem. Not jumping. Sigh.

Tell me what you think. If you know of anyone who might have an option on contacts and sport or contacts in general, please forward.

Stay safe. Stay sane.
Katherine Walcott

12 thoughts on “Expanding the Question, Contact Lenses While Riding

  1. Then there are goggles, as worn by SCUBA divers. Probably not The right thing for riding but a thought.

    I have a related but unrelated question. For my upcoming cataract surgery, I have the option of TORIC lenses which correct for my astigmatisms was well as eliminating the cataracts. Been around for about ten years.

    Does anyone know anything about them?


    1. I had bilateral cataract surgery in 2011 and it was amazing. When they took off the bandages, I looked at my ophthalmologist and said “oh! That’s what you look like!” The lenses corrected my myopia and astigmatism to the point where I see better without assistance than I did with contacts. Still need to wear glasses for driving (especially at night) but I really like. I could have had correction to the point of not needing driving glasses, but I like being able to read without reading glasses, and that was the trade-off.
      I wore TORIC contact lenses, and that’s what I had as replacement.

      1. Thank you. I had thought that reading glasses were the way to go but what you say makes sense. I read more than I drive. Because of my glaucoma, progressives are not an option but I can choose between near and far sighted correction.

        I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. I wore contacts for many years before I had surgical correction. I wore them at work which means through firefighting and EMS (not sports but less than ideal circumstances) and also during dog sports. I was going to say I didn’t wear them riding but I did actually just hacking and just for a few years. Of course I was a lot younger then so they were not progressives and they were soft lenses. I loved them! I noticed the difference immediately. For years I wore them for months at a time straight through (talk about not taking care of them), then started having some eye redness if I wore them on a 24 hour shift and had to actually do the right thing. They said that it wasn’t my lack of care actually but body chemistry changes.

    Anyway, I have no experience with progressive contacts but I would do it again. I would also do surgery again as that is even better but not for what you need.

  3. With proper care, you shouldn’t have any problems with soft contacts. I found that I had a better eye for a distance over fences than with glasses, and contacts didn’t have the side blur that glasses gave. I had tried progressive glasses and they gave me vertigo, so I went with single-vision, which worked fine.
    When I later had cataract surgery, they gave me the option of progressive lenses, but chose to do single vision again (cataract surgery was a real blessing).
    I had zero problems with contacts around horses. You just have to take care of them. Go with soft lenses.

  4. Another vote for riding with contacts. I’ve worn them for 40 years. Contacts are much easier to manage now, with the once-per-month disposal, than decades ago where you had to disinfect weekly with special steps. Also much more comfortable. They are really wonderful for riding, but I will say that in a dusty or windy environment I’m happier with sunglasses over them. Riding or driving at speed can dry them or cause them to float off center.

    While the eye exam for them can be pricey, most good eye docs will give you free trials of assorted shapes/brands/sizes to see what’s most comfortable. So, if you can give it a shot and see. Putting them in and taking them out takes practice. I agree with Greg that you probably won’t like them (at first) but if you gave it a shot, you might come to love them. And wouldn’t it be fun to prove him wrong? 🙂

  5. Caveat: I have an extreme prescription (-22) and I have no idea if they are available/appropriate for far-sightedness, but the scleral lenses I switched to about a year ago (from Boston Lens gas-perms) have been a godsend. Not only was I able to throw away the readers (that I was layering over my contacts for reading/screen-time), because somehow they correct presbyopia way better than other options, but I have found the suction seal of these lenses means that I almost never get painful schmutzes under the lenses in the barn anymore. So awesome. They go in, they stay put, they give me no grief, and at the end of the day I remove them and the cleaning routine takes 20 seconds. I have bifocal glasses but I find I wear them only as long as it takes me to find my contacts in the morning… hate the lack of peripheral vision and their utter lack of practicality when riding and doing barn chores. But no lenses at all isn’t an option for me – blind as a bloody bat without some sort of assistance.

    Btw when the sclerals (which are custom-fitted) were on order my ophthalmologist had me try soft lenses in the interim, and I absolutely hated them. Fiddly to put in and take out, shred when you’re handling them, turn inside out ffs, dry out and fold up and fill landfills with filmy plastic. The worst. And they don’t correct astigmatism worth a damn.

    So … yes, if you have never worn them before, you will probably hate dealing with contacts at first, and you may find them uncomfortable for the first few tries (though people are generally squeamish about messing about with their eyes and it’s more that, than actual discomfort). But IMHO worth it if you persevere.

  6. I’ve been wearing glasses for 50 years, progressive once they became available, and haven’t noticed any trouble with peripheral vision. Of course, I wear styles with narrow ear pieces, so no blockage. You just have to try and see what you’re comfortable with.

  7. I’ve suffered from dry eyes off and on over the years but continue to wear contacts. I usually just pop them in an hour before I ride and take them out about 2 hours after I’m done. I have the very thick eye drops in case I’m going through one of my ‘dry spells’/

    1. Dry eyes are a constant with me; also, when I had horses, there was no particular schedule as to when I would or would not be riding. But if you have set schedule, that might work.

  8. I wear contacts at shows, glasses the rest of the time. Toric co tacts have been uncomfortable to me but non toric are fine for riding. Something I found from reading but that no doctor ever bothered to explain: different lenses react differently to different solutions, and the solutions react differently to different peoples eyes. They discontinued my brand contacts about 10nyears ago ( ones I’d been using since I was 14) and the replacements just hurt and were always itchy. Until I went and bought samples of 8 different solutions and found the solution that was right for me. Now I love them. ( biotrue in case you wonder)

  9. Noting all of this for post-covid contemplation. Ban on non-essential medical visits is my excuse for now. Taking my own sweet time to get with the program? Well, yes. No one has *ever* confused me with an early adopter.

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