Here is what the Ontario Liberal government has done to me. It's given me a mild anxiety attack, which is growing by the second. I had to make an appointment with my ophthamologist; I was told to. I made the appointment, and then the secretary warned me that I'd have to pay. Why? I have vision problems beyond the usual myopia -- which frankly is bad enough because if you can't see unless you stick your nose up to the computer screen, how are you ever going to be a productive worker -- but I don't have diabetes, glaucoma, and cataracts. Only people lucky enough to have those get to be covered by OHIP. The rest of us between 20 and 64 years of age just have to suck it up and fork over the cash if we want to go for a routine eye exam. Just one problem. I'm poor; I don't have the cash. So what do I do?
The really stupid thing is that problems like glaucoma or macular degeneration sneak up on you. There are public service announcements warning people to have routine eye exams, especially after a certain age, an age much younger than 64, and especially those on certain medications, in order to look for the earliest signs of glaucoma in order to prevent eye damage. Then there are the eye diseases that spring from other diseases of the body, like the popping eyes of those with Graves' Disease, a thyroid condition. What about those poor people? Are they supposed to not have that monitored and treated?
According to HealthyOntario -- with its nifty Government of Ontario logo at the top -- there is no cure for glaucoma, "the second leading cause of blindness in North America," and no reversal of damage done to the eyes. The best thing to do is, wait for it: "There's nothing you can do to prevent developing glaucoma, but with regular eye examinations, you increase your chances of detecting the disease before it can irreversibly damage your vision." Unfortunately, the Ontario Liberals have effectively nixed that option for the poor. I can almost hear the Liberals saying Bartesquely, "Suckers!" The poor only get to be covered once it's damaged their vision and the ophthamologist can say they're treating them for glaucoma. They skate by with this injustice -- and a really short-sighted one at that because what happens to the government purse when a healthy worker goes blind? -- by saying it's a disease of the old on their HealthyOntario website so it's not likely to pop up until after age 65 when everyone's covered once again by OHIP. But the CNIB, a much more credible source, points out that the risk increases after age 50. One can almost call the government racist as well since those of African descent have an increased risk.
Then there's age-related macular degeneration. I can almost hear you say, well that's OK because if it's age-related then it must appear in the over-65 set when OHIP covers everyone. No, it's not OK because, once again, according to the CNIB, it is "the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 50." Your ophthamologist is most likely to be able to spot and help you prevent AMD during a routine eye exam.
So what do I do? Well, I'm more afraid of vision loss or outright blindness than I am of an empty bank account. So I'm going. And then I'm going to ask John Tory if he'll right this wrong, and vote for him.