Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Contact sport

I'm hypermetropic and astigmatic - long sighted with funny shaped eyes. When I was young my family thought I was stupid because I had problems telling cows from sheep. Maggie still often thinks I'm stupid when I can't tell Ryan Reynolds from Ben Affleck but I suppose that's different. I think they noticed that I couldn't see very well when I went to school. I wore glasses all the time till I was about 25 - not all the time really but you know what I mean. Thick glasses. Opticians told me I couldn't wear lenses but I insisted on trying them and, nearly 40 years, later I'm still wearing them or rather their successors. Because of the astigmatism they are hard lenses, little plastic lenses that float on the tear layer on the surface of my eyes. I presume the technology has changed a little since the first ones I had but they are nothing like the floppy disposable lenses that most lens wearers use.

One of the first bits of advice that I got on putting in and taking out the lenses was to put the plug in the plughole. The little blighters can escape. A few weeks ago, whilst I was putting them in, I dropped one of them. Half blinded I searched around but I couldn't find it. I went looking for an old pair. I found one set so dried up that the lens just snapped when I picked it up and the only serviceable pair were really old and quite painful. Fortunately as I cleaned up the washbasin, blinking hard, I found the missing lens caught on the grid of the plug hole. Time to buy another pair I thought.

My last pair were about five years old, bought in Cartagena. The optician had been painstaking in getting them to fit properly. I thought about going back because finding a good optician is like finding a good dentist. Once you have one you like it's worth a bit of effort to stick with them. But it's a 240 kilometre round trip to Cartagena and I decided to shop local instead.

The optician in Pinoso that I chose seemed a little off hand to be honest. It had none of the white jacket, almost medical, mentality, of the Cartagena place. The Pinoso optician was much more like a hairdresser's - people coming and going, a sort of community atmosphere, the sort of place where you would get called "love" in the UK.  Actually they seemed to delight in my name - Kreest-off-air.

The eyetest was normal enough though there was none of that red and green background with a circle thing nor the little puff of air but they had some impressive looking machine for scanning the shape of my eye. Once they had the prescription and the measurements they asked the manufacturer for a price - it was a reasonable 350€ so I said yes. A while later they phoned me to say they had the lenses. The next time I was in town I popped in to make an appointment to try them.

"We won't do the test now." they said. "They take time to settle in, take them away, wear them a few days and then come back and we'll have a look."
"What about the money?", I said. I wasn't keen on handing over cash till I was sure the lenses were OK.
"Oh, you don't want to pay until you know they're OK".

So they let me walk out of the shop with 350€ worth of lenses without knowing much about me. True enough Pinoso is a small place and everybody knows someone who knows you but it was still my first time with them and I could have been in Pinoso on holiday for all they knew.

It was a good system though. The lenses did definitely settle in but, even then, the left lens wasn't right. It was sitting too low and they've sent it away to be changed. They also sent a video of my eye full of fluorescein, an orange dye which, under UV light, shows how the lenses and the cornea interact, so the manufacturer could get the lens right. I still have the right lens though and I've been wearing it for over a week now. And I still haven't paid.

Small town life. Small town Spanish life.

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