You might be surprised to know that Regina is home to one of the top eye care centres in Canada. The Pasqua Hospital’s Eye Centre officially opened in 1994 in its current location, with support from Hospitals of Regina Foundation. Prior to that, the Pasqua Hospital operated a small eye clinic in an older part of the hospital and ophthalmologists performed procedures out of their own offices. Today, more than 21,000 procedures are performed each year at the Eye Centre, helping patients from across southern Saskatchewan, including Regina’s Becki Zerr.
“I’ve been partially blind since the age of three,” Becki says. “Gradually starting from birth, a combination of factors including glaucoma, uveitis and rheumatoid arthritis, took the sight in my right eye.”
Despite having only limited vision in her left eye, Becki went on to graduate from university and began working as a nurse in 2004. She married her husband Brad the same year, and their son Bennett arrived in 2010. However, their idyllic lives were thrown upside down in the summer of 2013.
“When I woke up on August 23, my left eye had popped and deflated – a global rupture,” Becki recalls. “Imagine what goes through your mind at a moment like that, including the thought that you’ll never see your husband and son again!”
A whirlwind of surgical procedures and treatments followed, as the medical team at the Eye Centre worked feverishly to save some vision in Becki’s eye. A b-scan ultrasound helped determine the extent of the damage before the retina was repaired. Other procedures included the removal of a calcium build-up, surgery to repair a corneal ulcer, and a procedure to eliminate a wrinkle from the retina. From having no sight at all for the first two months, she now has some vision. “It ranges from 20/200 to 20/400, depending on the day,” she says.
Becki returns to the Centre regularly for follow-up treatments and is thankful to have access to world-class care right here in her community.
“I’m so grateful to everyone, including Foundation donors,” Becki says. “I think I’ve had every piece of equipment in the Eye Centre used in my care! I’ve been given the gift of sight, and have seen my boy learn to ride a bike and play hockey. Those are things other parents might take for granted, but I never do.”
Today, Becki is medically retired from nursing, and has launched a new career as a reflexologist. She also advocates for improved services for people experiencing vision loss as a board member with the CNIB.
“Becki’s story illustrates the importance of investing in the best possible technology for Regina’s hospitals,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “Thanks to our donors and supporters, over the past 3 years, we’ve invested more than $700,000 in crucial technology for the Eye Centre, including a fundus camera that captures images of the back of the eye and a phacoemulsifier, which is used to help save the eyesight of patients with cataracts. Investments like these, and the cryogenic therapy technology (for cases where patients have a detached or torn retina) we will invest in this year, are helping people live better lives, right here at home.”