Monday, January 31, 2011

A Short Sighted World

MY WORLD INVOLVED a trip to the Retina Surgical Clinic in New Westminster, BC. Rain spattered on the car windshield as my husband drove me into the city last Friday. My view would be murkier were it not for the invention of glasses and laser surgery to stop the progression of tears to my retina. Such tears can lead to a detachment.

I treasure techniques available to improve my vision as well as prevent disaster. But although I don’t like my personal light shows, floaters and tears, I do enjoy seeing ripples of rain cascade down glass, distorting the world into an impressionist painting. There were more sights to see along our way.

In the mid-1800s during colonial times, New Westminster was briefly the capital of British Columbia. It has struggled to maintain its significance and resources over the years and recover areas fallen in disrepair.

Many older houses have kept up their charm while some have not. I found this well maintained home and street very appealing.

New and old structures can be seen side by side in the hilly city that climbs upward from the fringes of the Fraser River. Heritage events and a dedicated community keep New Westminster alive and in touch with its important past.

My husband parked the car after getting to the clinic early.

I watched passersby huddle beneath their umbrellas.

Newspaper stands brimmed with information about local and world events.

Most people hurriedly walked by without a glance.

I spied a few birds on some branches. They didn't seem to mind the drops and were singing amid the showers.

Inside the building were more umbrellas. Nearby offices were packed with people needing eye care. The long wait for my laser surgery was an opportunity to chat with other patients and to hear their stories. I spoke with a young diabetic woman whose retina tears began in her early teens and a fifty-five year old woman who suddenly woke up at the age of 38 with a partial detached retina. Another woman in her 70s was blinded in one eye by an infection during childhood and now her “good eye” had holes and tears.

I had enlightening conversations with people struggling to keep their sight intact. Fortunately, my eyes are examined regularly to resolve new issues quickly. But as we drove home I realized BC’s deteriorating health care system (which no longer provides free eye examinations every two years) contributes to undetected problems that are more serious and expensive to treat over time.

Sadly, BC's health care is oddly short-sighted when it comes to visual issues.

Eyes are our windows, and much like houses, in need of constant care.

Explorers can find more sites from around the globe at My World.


  1. Horrible about BC health care deteriorating. And even horibbler about your retina, but I know you'll "keep an eye on it" so you're not surprised by a detachment (is that the right word?) occurring.
    I love the pictures of New Westminster, where I was born. The fourth photo reminds me of Grandma and Grandpa's house, where my dad was born.
    When I'm out next week, I want to visit my mother's cousin in New Westminster, but I think I'll take the bus and/or sky-train.
    A very good post about your (formerly our) world this week!
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. Very interesting and good to see those nice old houses. Unfortunate weather, hopefully the sun comes out soon but you are stil in winter isn't it

  3. You've just reminded me to get my eyes checked. Ontario doesn't provide free eye exams now either. All provinces seem to be cutting back!

  4. And not just Canada! The cutbacks here in the states are increasing every week! Love the tour you've taken us on! I'm holding good thoughts for the treatment of your retina -- it's always frightening to think of the possibility of losing even a little of our sight and not being able to enjoy the beauties of our worlds. A great look at your world! Have a wonderful week!


  5. I'm sorry to hear about your retina. I liked all of the shots. You captured the town so well with your camera.

  6. This is an interesting post - my mother had macular degeneration and i know how she would delight on the odd days when she could see things clearly. Suddenly, the mundane became so beautiful.

  7. I tell you if you have eye issues you really appreciate the things they can do to correct them. I am terribly short-sighted with stigmatisms and also Graves Eye Disease, so I understand how you feel and send you my best.

    I enjoyed your tour, so different to where I live.

  8. Wonderful shots of the city through the rain. It sure has a nice effect.

  9. I just got a reminder from my eye doctor for an annual check up. I remember last year, he performed a special test, I think it was retina, which I think is a must.

    I am near sighted so I always need glasses driving, leaving a pair in my car.

    I hope everything checked out well for you.

  10. a very wet world your world, nice series to show this.

    Have a nice week,
    Greetings, Bram

    Link to My Word Tuesday post!

    Seen on My World Tuesday

  11. I hope your retina will be cured. You are right. Human body, including eyes is far from the perfect, which requires everlasting care.
    Please have a wonderful day.

  12. My brother used to live in New Westminister.

    The health care system in Ontario isn't much better, no free eye exams here either.

    I hope your treatment helps.

  13. I love the fluid images you captured on your trip to the city. I hope you'll be safe and sound with your eyes in no time.

  14. There is a lot of rain there as it isd now in my country. I love your pictures.

  15. I'm thinking your laser surgery went well, Penelope, or you wouldn't be posting so soon afterwards. I certainly hope so! Each of our senses is so precious, and the slightest deterioration in any one of them worrisome.

    Your thoughts on the short-sightedness of B.C.'s medical system were stated gently, as is your wont. I wonder if you have any readers who could pass on those words to government leaders. Or, better still, your blog address, so they could sense a little of your caring and level-headed character.

    You brought your readers along for the ride to the hospital, and in my case, I felt I could almost be sitting there in your place, loving the distorted, impressionistic images, while at the same time, wanting to know that the surgery would enable me to have the “straight” view whenever needed.

    It was nice see the people with their umbrellas, and the birds going about their daily routine, seemingly unaware of weather.

    My thoughts are with you and your doctor(s) as you work together to take care of your eyes.

  16. Oh, I loved these rainy day photos! It's been too long since I've seen rain like this. We'll be on Vancouver Island at the end of February...I'm getting a bit homesick for ocean and rain these days!

    I lived in New West for a few months in the early seventies. I loved the old homes, many of which were rented out to students.

    I hope your eyes will be better soon. I have cataracts which haven't developed enough yet for surgery, but I can sure tell they are there.

  17. Love your rainy day tour of New Westminster! I hope your surgery was successful and will be long lasting! I go for my eye exam in two weeks.

  18. Was nice to see the quaint old houses of New Westminster. I hear you on the failing medical care we are experiencing here in BC. I go to the eye specialist every six months to check my pressure. So far so good, I have no need for pressure drops since my cararact surgery. Sorry to hear of your dilema on the retina tear. Keep us posted on the outcome of your eyes.

  19. Very interesting post today Penelope. Your perspective through the rain ripples on the car windows gave extra depth to your subject matter today. It is a shame that there is no longer coverage for regular visits to the eye doctor. Perhaps the new leader after elections will change that. I sure hope so.


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