Eye care

Please see why you should come and visit Costa Rica

Created: prior to 2018

In 2019 I had a $2 eye appointment, and then got $15 glasses.

The process was quick, and the prescription seems good and I like the glasses I picked, but the glasses were flawed, I believe in the ‘scratch resistant’ layer.

Now some background and the caveats.

I had astigmatism and short sightedness when I was younger.

Prior to having laser eye surgery I tried contacts for a few years. I had lots of problems with them, my eyes kept building up calcium deposits and I have lots of fluid and it turns out I don’t ‘fully blink’. This meant, soft, hard, semi-hard, long term contact lenses all ‘fail’ for me.

So I always went back to wearing glasses. And I hated it. I hated waking up in the morning and not being able to read the alarm clock until I found and put my glasses on. I hated that I couldn’t scuba/skin dive easily because I couldn’t see clearly. I hated trying to fit my glasses under my ski-goggles. Basically, I hated that I had to wear glasses for everything in life.

On the plus side, I have/had very high resolution – with the focal correction of glasses, I was able to see very fine details, things like reading the text that ‘is’ the signature line on high security cheques. Things like when we ran a magazine publishing company, I could see the size and shape of the color dots without having to use a magnifying glass.

At about the age of 35, I had laser eye surgery on both eyes. It was fairly successful, and better enough that I’m glad I had it done. But it wasn’t perfect. (my wife had surgery the same year – hers was perfect.) We both had it done by the ‘Mitchell Eye Centre’ which was at the time we had it done, reputed to be one of the top in the world.

I have some ‘double vision’ and blurriness. Most noticeable looking at points of light, sharp black on white, or looking at the moon. It is most noticeable at night – when the eyes are fully dilated.

Now, wearing glasses fixes it. But after spending 35 years wearing glasses I chafe at wearing glasses more than I need to.

As I got older, I also had to start using reading glasses about 2 hours a day (mostly when my eyes are tired.) Currently 2019, I almost never wear reading glasses – but I probably should.

As I got older, I found that, more than reading glasses, what I need is glasses for computer work far more than I needed ‘reading’ glasses.

So I decided:

  • I need 1.00 reading glasses for reading books with fine print and reading when I’m in a dark room and reading when my eyes are tired and stressed.
  • I want ‘computer’ glasses (think half way between reading glasses and distance glasses) for when my eyes are tired and I’m working on a computer.
  • I want ‘bi-focal’ glasses – but not the normal type – for driving. I want the main lens to be for distance, and I want the ‘bi’ focal part to be for computer distance – to make it easier to read the speedometer.

When I went for my testing in Asembis, they only charged me $2. Obviously a great price, for getting testing and a prescription. But when I explained I wanted a prescription for computer screen distance, they said ‘Oh, we’ve been asked for that by people from US before – they call them tri-focal. We only do prescriptions for bi-focal, reading glasses and distance glasses. We don’t do that middle range.”

Now, I then decided, well, I am here for a test of the system, and the price is so cheap, I’ll spend another $15 and get a pair of glasses, it was a little higher because I asked for scratch resistant coating. It was clear they were scared I was going to say no when they told me the price, but I said yes.

They promised the glasses in 5 business days. But it took 7 business days before they had them ready. A problem if you are on a tight trip.

I got the glasses and left back home for Canada a few hours later (and yes, I declared what I bought to Canada Customs.). The prescription seemed perfect.

I then drove the next day and found that they had a flaw – when you hold them at an oblique angle, one of the lenses has a whole bunch of imperfections in one layer and I didn’t notice until I got home to Canada (I got the glasses hours before leaving for home.)

Where this is a problem is driving at night, there is terrible glare in that one lens, which means they are defective in a way that means I can’t use them.

Now, to be fair, they did come with a warrantee. It’s just that, to take advantage of the warrantee, I’d have to fly back to Costa Rica.

And I might be doing that (for a different reason.) But my point is … this is a concern if you are buying out of country and have no reasonable way of getting problems like this corrected. So, it seems to me, that my advice has to be at this point: If you are going to use the prescription to buy glasses in country, make sure you are going to be there for a month before buying glasses there. But … take the prescription and get it filled in Canada or the USA, that seems a good decision.

In the mean time, I have found an optometrist about a 1 hour drive from San Jose that provides reading/computer/distance prescriptions and can provide glasses with one, two or three of these. I’ll be trying to check this out sometime in the next 8 months and I’ll update – good or bad, my results.

Summary as of October 2019 is then:

  • If you want a prescription for ‘computer’ distance – check before you make your appointment.
  • If you want to buy glasses in Costa Rica, you can get a good deal, but only order if you have time to let them repair any defects twice. (In other words – what if you get them ‘repaired’ and they still don’t do it right.)

Am I being unfair? I don’t think so. I’m being practical. Even the best company is going to make mistakes sometimes. I am not complaining about that – I’m just saying it can happen so you have to plan for that possibility in your plans.

If you live in Costa Rica – then no problem at all, you’ll be around and, since one of my 2 lenses is perfect, I am absolutely sure that Asembis would have fixed them properly under warrantee.