Tyler Mudd, a Monroe County farmer, sees farming through a different lens. The University of Missouri graduate photographs everyday farm events with a keen eye for detail and lighting.
Mudd wasn’t always able to see the beauty of the land tilled by four generations of Mudd farmers.
He spent his freshman year of high school thinking that he would go blind.
Mudd developed Acanthamoeba keratitis in his eyes during his freshman year. The rare, vision-threatening, parasitic infection causes light sensitivity, blurred vision and a feeling that something is in your eye. It is most common in contact lens wearers.
Despite a dim prognosis from eye doctors, Mudd and his parents would not give up. They sought advice and hope from doctors until one had treatment for the rare disease. Doctors implanted corneas from organ donors into Mudd’s eyes so he could see. He likely will need additional surgeries and daily steroid drops for life.
Mudd daily celebrates the gift of sight.
“I don’t take it for granted,” he said. “I lost it and got it back.”
Mudd went on to earn a degree in agricultural engineering in 2013, and married Megan, his high school sweetheart, in August 2013. They returned to their hometown and the Mudd family farm.
The Mudds invest in technology such as drones, precision planting and nutrient management. Mudd uses drones to take pictures for farm and fun. He started photography in 2014 when he began experimenting with Instagram to edit photos.
The camera on his new drone takes 12 megapixel pictures. It captures photos of areas where trucks compacted ground and where nutrients are needed. It also gives bird’s-eye views of grain augered into a grain truck at day’s end.
He uses his cellphone to photograph everyday farm chores and events. When Mudd sees something interesting and the lighting is right, he stops, grabs a shot and uploads it to social media.
“Life inspires me,” he said. “So I’ll hop on the auger wagon to toss corn up in the sky 50 times until I get the picture I want. I’ll stop the combine just before dusk and walk 60 feet into standing beans to frame that machine against a breathtaking sunset. I do it because I haven’t always been able to do it. I do it because I may not always be able to do it.”
Mudd says he likes sharing his photos to remind others to slow down and enjoy the beauty around them. He also takes photos for himself to honor the people who donated corneas so that he might see the beauty of life.
“I appreciate the details — the little things,” he said. “I know what it’s like to have those things taken from you. Thankfully, I also know what it’s like to get them back.”
Donations of corneas made it possible for Tyler Mudd to farm and photograph. He encourages others to consider making donations of organs and tissues.
It’s recommended that those wishing to donate sign the back of their driver’s license with permanent black ink and tell family and friends, physician and faith leader about the choice to donate.
The webste organdonoor.gov has information about donating vital organs and tissues for transplants.
With Quincy Medical Group since 1999, Dr. Eric Sieck treated Tyler Mudd. Sieck is a board certified ophthalmologist, and his medical and research interests include cornea transplants, cataract surgery, laser-assisted cataract surgery, advanced technology lens implants and glaucoma surgery. A native of Rolla, Mo., he received his medical degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine and completed his residency in ophthalmology at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colo., and his fellowship in cornea transplantation at Harvard Medical School Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
- By LINDA WHELAN GEIST