Blind (1916) by Paul Strand

One lure of taking photographs is that you get to hide behind a machine and safely observe the world. You get to look, without being seen. This was especially true in the early days of photography when photographic equipment was bulky and when exposing the film or plate required a dark area at the back of the camera. The dark area was created with a black hood. The experience of taking a picture meant getting under that black hood and entering another world from which you could watch the real world outside. The pleasure of it must have been like being in a pillow fort as a child. You are in a safe and hidden space, but you get to peer out through the cracks between the pillows in order to see what all the adults are doing.

Or, the eye has it.

Here in the crowded retina clinic, we’re waiting to have pictures taken of our macula with marvelous cameras, the backs of our eyes are about to be zapped with lasers or, like me, our central retinal veins have occluded — fancy term for a blood clot — and the retinas have swollen. The result is blurred and distorted vision. Luckily, only my right eye is afflicted.

I’ve already read the chart — could barely make out the large E at the top — and have had dilating drops put into my eyes, so now I’m waiting for my pupils to become pie tins, big enough for someone to look all the way into my soul.

Albert DiBartolomeo is the author of two novels, several short stories, numerous commentaries for the Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications, and has written… More…

A trap for the real stuff, as one ages.

“A place for everything, and everything in its place” could be the perfect homemaker’s rule to live by. The maxim’s perfect, but I’m not, even though I won’t buy anything now unless I know where I can put it. I’ve abandoned all aspects of recreational shopping. And that policy includes a can of sardines.  As long as nobody gives me anything, I’m just fine. Except for the mail. And keeping track of my eyeglasses.


Like many people in their 60s, I need to wear glasses when I read or work on the computer. When I was a teenager, I discovered that I was nearsighted. For some few moments that I don’t remember, I must have had perfect vision as it flipped from my being able to read close up to being able to see clearly, unaided, only at… More…

In color, thanks to gene therapy.


When the pediatrician diagnosed both of my two sons with color deficiency, I learned that they see the world a little differently than I do. They see colors, but they have difficulty differentiating between particular shades of reds and greens or blues and yellows. I’m not even sure which. If they had total color deficiency — color blindness — I would have worried, but as it was, we laughed about their little vision condition. It did not seem like any big loss that their career options might be slightly limited, given the wide realm of possibilities.

So when I first read the news last week that scientists had cured spider monkeys of red-green color deficiency, I thought it was a pretty minor stuff. Big deal, so monkeys can now see more colors than my kids! But… More…