"I Can See Clearly Now"

Just before I moved to Panama, I took advantage of my medical, dental, and vision insurance that would soon be cancelled. Among other exams, I had an eye exam and received a new prescription for eyeglasses. But soon after moving here, I started to notice that my glasses seemed to be blurred, foggy, and needed cleaning. Finally I realized that the anti-glare coating, which was guaranteed not to, but had indeed started coming off. It looked like my lenses were scratched all the time and as much as I tried to clean them, nothing would help. For a few months, I could tolerate it; my eyesight seemed to adjust through the blurs lines on the lenses. Eventually it became intolerable. Of course the guarantee is only good in the US with the optometrist I went to. I had also brought another older pair of spectacles, and although my prescription had changed, I went back to wearing them. But I only used them mostly to see better up close and for sunglasses, since they were progressive bifocal transitional turning darker in the sunlight.
Finally I really could not tolerate seeing everything in a blurred, foggy light and asked our friend Lee where he had gone for new eyeglasses. “In Chitre at MetroX Optometry. They offer a free exam and are very inexpensive.” It just so happens that la optomotrista is another friend Dave’s neighbor. Lee gave me directions and also advised me to bring his translator Maria, since no one at this office speaks English. I am speaking Spanish more and more, and understand a lot more as well, but it is always a good idea to have someone to translate, especially when it comes to something like buying eyeglasses.

So I made an appointment with the optometrist and arrange for Maria to meet me at the office. Since she had done this for Lee, she called ahead to the optometry office and found that I had been given an appointment with an opthomologist, who I did not need to see since I had a new prescription within the last year and no real eye problems other than needing new glasses. So she changed the appointment for Sondra, the optometrist and met me last Friday as planned at the office. Maria even got there earlier to make sure I would be the first one to be seen. In Panama, it is first-come-first-serve no matter when your appointment is.

Everything went well with the eye exam. Sondra was impressed by my Spanish saying that I seemed to understand and speak the language better than any other expat she has seen before. I was still glad I had Maria to reinforce that I understood everything correctly. Afterwards, I went out to the front office to choose frames and was able to use my old frames since they were still somewhat new. I would just continue to use the other old pair until the glasses were ready. The receptionist who was measuring the lenses for the progressive bifocals shared that I spoke Spanish like someone from Los Santos province. I laughed and was surprised that I have picked up the Pedasian dialect for my Spanish (Pedasi is in Los Santos province). The final cost came to about $350 for progressive transitionals. In the states, I have purchased the same for many years and with insurance it has always cost over $500. I have no vision insurance here.

Anyway, I was told it may take about 15 days for them to be ready, but they would call me. So I paid the bill and off I went very satisfied with my experience. The Monday after, I receive a call from MetroX. My glasses are ready to be picked up. I couldn’t believe it; it only took a weekend. Because I thought I might have misunderstood, I called Maria and asked her to confirm with them that the glasses were actually ready so soon. Yes, they were. Knowing that I was going to be in Chitre the following Friday, I waited until today to pick them up. And yes, I put them on and I could see again, clear as a bell. There was also a little light device that showed that the glasses actually transitioned to a darker lens. They attached a guarantee to the paperwork and I was on my way. It’s certainly nice to know I am getting better and more confident in my Spanish. Panama is definitely becoming a familiar place for me, my home. And as Mikkel and I drive away onto our next adventure, I am reminded of the song by Johnny Nash and start singing “I Can See Clearly Now…”


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