I love the new specs I bought in Mexico. My vision is perfect and these eyeglasses cost a hell of a lot less than if I had bought them in the U.S.
On some background, I’m somewhat of an eyeglass snob. I wore them as accessories throughout the years and I’ve had countless frames. The last full pair I bought in early 2015 (frame and progressive lenses) cost me $750 with eye insurance. Before I left the U.S. in August 2015, I got a second pair – new lenses placed into old frames to save money at Target, for $475 – again with insurance. I thought that was a bargain. Warby Parker isn’t my style because my vision is poor and I like to be precise with progressive lenses. I always pay extra for thinner lenses because I’m heavily nearsighted and regular specs get heavy on my nose. I also get the anti-reflective coating. Buying glasses in Mexico was going to be a big change for me. Good thing I like to take calculated risks.
To find the place for service, I once again used a closed Facebook group of expats living in Puerto Vallarta. People suggested Costco (I’m not a member and they have a no return policy) or Eye Metrics (Optica Medica) in Old Town. I went with Optica Medica, and I’m so glad I did!
The doctor was professional and kind. He gave me the same kind of exam with the same machines I have had practically all my life each year back home. The doc made a slight prescription change on the foresighted part, and suggested I start wearing a larger frame to accommodate the change and help me see better. He was right – my vision is better.
Exam, lenses and new frame cost me just $310 USD – with no insurance. Yep. Isn’t that fantastic? Less than half of what a new full pair cost back in the USA. Also, I used my health savings account with no problem – just had to pay a one percent fee on top of the sale for using the card outside the U.S. (We currently use Health Equity.)
Sure, I could try bifocals to save even more money but I love how the world looks with my progressives. Vision is kinda important for my lifestyle. I started with progressives a few years ago instead of bifocals because I used to work 10 – 12 hours a day at a computer. I did have to wait nearly two weeks for these new eyeglasses, which is comparable to the States where I also had to wait up to 10 business days.
I’m so happy with these new glasses that I’m going to take an old frame I’ve been lugging around the world and bring it to the doctor to make new sunglasses as soon as we return to Puerto Vallarta next month. New lenses in an old frame will run me another $180. I use prescription sunglasses for active things, like jogging. It’s less weight on my face than eyeglasses with Solar Shields over them.
Oh – and contacts? The doc offered to let me try progressive contacts, so I know they have the latest and greatest goods. But I tried those back in the States and didn’t like them. Also, I’m usually on the beach so contacts are a drag and I gave them up awhile back when I lived alone in Tulum and didn’t want to risk being alone and virtually blind in a foreign country. Besides, I mostly wore contacts for looks and I’m not that vain anymore, even though now and then I’ll pop off my glasses for a photo op!
Now, if only I could find a cheap place for my prescription dive and snorkel mask… and my dream would be to have prescription swim goggles. For now, I use an old mask that works if I’m not trying to look at anything closer than about two feet.
I’m adding this good experience with new glasses in Puerto Vallarta to my good experiences with health care while having a mosquito virus (Tulum), urinary tract infection (Campeche), parasites (Tulum), dental care (Mahahual) and yearly mammogram and gynecology (Chetumal) visit.
Yes, I paid the gringa price at all places – and I don’t care because it’s all been good so far. Maybe this will inspire other people to not be so afraid of the health care system outside America.
(*This blog was written in late December 2017. It was time for another new prescription so I bought new glasses in Barcelona, Spain, where I was when I needed them in April 2018. If you are interested in that new post, it’s here.)