Eye Doctors On Terceira

May 8, 2023

Howdy friends!

I have a question specifically for those of you on Terceira who wear BIFOCALS and those of you who got your prescription from your optometrist (as in you ACTUALLY GOT A PAPER COPY of your prescription).

So, backstory: My doctor at CSAH told me I needed an eye exam to get my driver’s license here, so I went to Dr. Sofia Ribeiro in Angra (she also has an office in Praia, so you may know her from there as well). When I got there, she did the phoropter test (“which looks better, A or B”) but we only went back and forth through a few lenses. The whole thing took MAYBE three minutes, then she started filling out the paperwork for my driver’s license.

The exam was 70€, which I paid because I was really there for my driver’s license, so I didn’t think much of it. I used my new prescription to get several pairs of frames online for about $50 each.

The glasses came, and the prescription is VERY different from my old prescription. But I can see pretty well at a distance (as in, when I’m driving), but not when I’m reading or using my laptop (and because of work, I’m on my laptop over 10 hours a day).

So I figured the doctor had given me the “distance only” prescription … Again, no big deal … I don’t like traditional bifocals anyway; I’d rather have one pair for distance and another for close-up.

Here’s where things get weird. I went back to Dr. Ribeiro’s office for the rest of my prescription. Her staff said I’d have to make another appointment, wait another few weeks, get another exam, and pay another 70 euros. I reminded them that I already had an appointment/exam back in February but they said they wouldn’t help me.

So I walked over to Ópticas MultiOpticas a few doors down and told them what was happening. They said they’d give me a free exam. Cool!

Anyway, their phoropter test was EVEN SHORTER than Dr. Ribeiro’s … They literally held the thing to my face, said “Which looks better, A or B?” and after only one choice (checking two different lens settings) they said they were finished and they had my “near vision” prescription already.

So… even more backstory:

I saw the same optometrist in the Memphis area for almost 20 years, then a different optometrist in Texas for over 20 years. Two doctors for yearly exams over 40 years. Since then I’ve seen a couple different optometrists, both in the states. So four doctors over 45+ years.

The exams ALWAYS took over an hour. They did glaucoma tests and a variety of other tests. The phoropter alone took a while, as my doctors would cycle through all of the different lenses trying to pinpoint the best prescription for me. There was a LOT of back and forth to get it just right, testing each eye individually, having me read multiple lines of different eye charts over and over, etc.

Dr. Ribeiro didn’t do any of that. Ópticas MultiOpticas certainly didn’t do any of that.

But hey, whatever. They must know what they’re doing, right?

After my “exam,” the guy at Ópticas MultiOpticas started explaining the cost of lenses … Because of my myopia and astigmatism, lenses start at 135€. And the frames start at about 99€ for the economy ones.

Bringing me to my next point: I ALWAYS buy my glasses online because there are literally thousands of pairs to choose from. I have yet to see a pair of men’s frames in a shop on the island that didn’t look, shall we say, *not my style* …

50€ for a pair I like vs 235€ for an ugly pair? No-brainer.

So I asked for my prescription and THEY SAID THEY COULD NOT GIVE IT TO ME.

So I asked if I could buy it. They said I could not.

I then explained that I needed it to buy a pair of glasses online because theirs were too expensive for me. I didn’t mention that they were ugly, too, but I was trying to be polite.

No dice.

So now I’ve had TWO eye exams, I’ve been given a PARTIAL prescription, and I have raging headaches because I can’t read, use the computer, or watch TV any more. As soon as you start using a new prescription, the old one stops working because your eyes “train” on new prescriptions very quickly. That said, I’m still wearing my old lenses until I can sort this out, but it’s killing my eyes.

So does anyone have an optometrist on the island that they recommend who will actually give me a thorough exam AND give me my prescription when they are done?

I’m not looking for any optometrist recommendations if you don’t also wear bifocals … I know some of you can wear “readers” or have other “easy” prescriptions … I am not in that situation. Thanks to astigmatism I’ve always had super-expensive lenses. It’s no fun. 🙁

I’m just starting to notice a similar theme among medical professionals on the island. I can’t afford to fly to the states or the mainland every time I need something, but quality regular dental care and eye care (etc) are not something I’m willing to give up.

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