Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A fallen autumn leaf lays on the snow-covered windshield of a car in Eichenau near Munich, Southern Germany, after the first snowfall of the season on Nov. 19, 2018.


It’s fitting, in retrospect, that rupture and disability would hit my beloved Toyota RAV4 first. One cloudless day, during rush hour, a giant flap guarding something in its mysterious nether regions separated from its body and began scraping the road.

I should mention, my Rav was 20 years old and, not unlike me, in pretty fabulous condition considering its age.

I immediately glared at the driver in the next lane, wondering how long his muffler had been making this horrible racket, before realizing I was the culprit. I pulled to the curb and waited until the traffic had moved sufficiently forward so no one would remember me. The rusted offending part easily came off in my hands and I placed it in the trunk, where I forgot about it. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Story continues below advertisement

A few weeks later, at the gym, a similar event happened in my body. A sudden explosion in my right eye, dozens of crazy black floaters like snarly branches dancing across my sight line – my first response was deny, deny – then, within an hour, a gradual fogging of my vision as if I were looking out the dirtiest windshield imaginable. The thought of losing my sight was terrifying. If I closed my left eye I could barely make out shapes with the right. It was scary. I grabbed an Uber and went straight to my optician.

When her x-rays were inconclusive, she sent me to Emergency. An on-call ophthalmologist referred me to a retinal surgeon who eventually diagnosed the problem. A hemorrhage behind my eye had been obscuring everything but he found a tear in my retina. “You are so lucky,” he said, followed by, “We are doing this right now, okay?”

The writer's 1997 RAV4.

Anne Bayin

He froze my eyeball and went in with a laser to repair the tear. Imagine a jackhammer with green flashing lights on your face for 30 minutes.

“One more day,” he said, almost to himself, “you would have been in serious trouble.”

I was convinced my driving days were over.

My doctor said retinal tears happen to lots of people (hence his packed waiting room, all ages) due to “life,” “age” and “bad luck.” How could I not have known this? There is no magic formula for prevention. It can happen while rolling over in your sleep. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, by age 65, one in nine Canadians develop irreversible vision loss, and by age 75 this ratio increases to one in four.

The laser part wasn’t fun. Over the next few months, Dr. Yan found a second tear and a third. He spoke about the “debris” floating around my eyeball, like it was a planet surrounded by space junk. You’d never know this from the outside, because after the red went away, the eye appeared normal, deceptively healthy; instead, there was mayhem back there.

Story continues below advertisement

In the middle of the night, while trying to sleep propped up, I obsessed about cars and eyeballs. Hollywood legend Sammy Davis Jr. lost his left eye in a car accident and famously wore a glass eye. That didn’t stop him from collecting – and driving – vintage autos. Actor Peter Falk starred in the TV series Columbo, as a disheveled one-eyed PI. His signature car, a 1959 Peugeot convertible, was equally disheveled. Then, the comedic stretch with Al Pacino, as blind -man-driving in Scent of A Woman in an implausible death-defying ride.

But while Hollywood treats blind drivers as comedy, what about real life? What about ordinary Canadians who become vision impaired?

The news is heartening. It turns out you don’t need both eyes to drive in Ontario, as long as your one good eye has learned to compensate.

You’ll be tested for what’s called “monocular vision.” If the driver’s licensing office is satisfied you have a normal field of vision, you can drive. Even if you have macular degeneration and pass a test, you can drive. Even if you have glaucoma and retain enough peripheral vision, you can drive.

Story continues below advertisement

All to say, it’s not over till its over. If the unexpected happens (retinal tears, such as mine), chances are you’ll be okay. If not, technology is coming to the rescue. Self-driving cars are around the corner.

Editor’s note: (January 2, 2019) An earlier version of this article stated in the caption that it was a 2002 RAV4. In fact, it is a 1997 RAV4.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up for the weekly Drive newsletter, delivered to your inbox for free. Follow us on Instagram, @globedrive.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies