When Dr. Joan Hansen graduated as a
doctor of Optometry in 1979, she wasn't allowed to prescribe
medication to patients, bifocals had a dividing line through the
lens, and an irritated eye could only be helped by an emergency room.
In the 39 years since, 35 of those spent at her practice right here in Sunny Tsawwassen, Joan says advancements in technology and the rules pertaining to Optometry have allowed her to help patients in ways she could never have initially imagined.
"I can solve their problem rather than sending them to the emergency room," she says.
Joan was originally attracted to Optometry because it's a health care profession that doesn't immediately convey a sense of fear among patients. For the most part, people visit Optometrists to get better, more comfortable eyewear for their everyday needs.
She also realized that proper eyecare is something that affects nearly every member of the population.
"We get you all... eventually!" says Joan, laughing.
In seriousness, she says many people can have good vision without the requirement for glasses well into their forties, but eventually some will need eyeglasses for reading or driving. Seniors may have fine eyesight until they get cataracts but that can be corrected via surgery. It's just one of the many options Joan can recommend to her patients as a professional Optometrist.
"They can have cataracts, glaucoma, many of them have eyes that are dry and they're not producing enough tears, they have macular degeneration. There's a whole host of things we're trying to mitigate to ensure they still see the best they possibly can for as long as they live."
With a greater proportion of seniors in South Delta than in other parts of the Lower Mainland, Tsawwassen Optometry can guide their health care needs beyond simply filling prescriptions. Often that means coordinating their care with a specialist somewhere outside the clinic, whether it's here in Sunny Tsawwassen or Vancouver and Surrey.
Joan acknowledges there's stiff competition for glasses, which is why she says her practice tries to have higher quality frames which will last longer and be sturdier. Also, she has many knowledgable staff on hand, including fellow Optometrists Dr. Sara Kirby and Dr. Giulia DeVuono.
"You really need to know how to keep a frame in adjustment, keep it fitting properly, keep the person seeing properly out of all different parts of their lens. And that means you need a good quality frame that's adjusted properly on your face."
Joan originally came to Tsawwassen from frigid Winnipeg as a "three year experiment" back in 1983.
"I go home for lunch. I feel really spoiled. I don't have to fight the tunnel or fight the traffic," says Joan, adding Tsawwassen feels like a small town but it doesn't lack for products or services.
"You can get anything you want right here in Tsawwassen. You don't have to leave. I never did!"
Tsawwassen Optometry Clinic is located inside the medical building just north of Winskill Park on 56th Street.