Tag Archives: University of Alabama

Complex contact lenses from UAB Ophthalmology keep disabled vet rolling

by Bob Shepard, UAB News

Birmingham, Alabama, October 29, 2014 – Jeff Henson has been riding bikes for years. In 2012, he rode a bike coast to coast across the United States. Before that, the Army veteran did a long bike ride in France, and several in the American Northwest, always on a tandem bike and always from the back seat. He was not allowed to ride on the front seat, the steering seat.

Jeff Henson was legally blind during those rides.

Jeff Henson, Lon Dolber and Van Brinson.
From left, Jeff Henson, Lon Dolber and World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President Van Brinson in Arlington, Virginia at the conclusion of the 2014 CanAm Veterans’ Challenge. Photograph courtesy Jeff Henson.

Henson, a native of Heflin, Alabama, who served as a demolition specialist in the Army for nine years, developed vision issues caused by arthritis and inflammation that first struck his right eye in 2000.

“I woke up one morning and I had this really bad headache,” Henson recalled. “My eye was watering so much that I couldn’t control the tears running down my face, and my head was hurting so bad I couldn’t stand for my wife to walk on the floor. Every time she took a step, I felt like my head was going to explode.”

His vision rapidly deteriorated. About a month later, the same thing happened to his left eye. In short order, Henson lost all vision in the right eye, while his left eye fell to 20/200.

Jeff Henson at the Washington Monument.
Jeff Henson at the Washington Monument and reflecting pool, July 4, 2014. Photograph courtesy Jeff Henson.

“I didn’t have any vision at all,” he said. “I was at the point where I was running into doors; I couldn’t see steps and would just run into walls. It was pretty life-changing.”

Henson went through rehabilitation for the blind and received mobility training. He got a white cane and Chauncey, a service dog. And he started riding bikes. He rode with veterans groups that held rides for disabled servicemen and women. But he had to ride tandem, on the back seat.

“I always wanted to ride by myself, but of course I couldn’t,” he said.

Read the full story at UAB News.

Jeff Henson and Harry Carr.
Veterans Jeff Henson and Harry Carr (right) during the 2014 CanAm Veterans’ Challenge. Photograph courtesy Jeff Henson.