Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sweden and the US Make an Eye Exchange

A few days ago I managed to rip my left contact. Which wouldn’t be a big deal if I had some extras lying around. I don’t. Or if it hadn’t been in my eye at the time. It was. Or if I had been able to get the other half out. I wasn’t. Unfortunately, it was a big deal.

After over ten years of wearing contacts, I have trained myself to shove my finger in my eye and not flinch. Evolutionarily speaking, probably not a good idea for the future protection of my eyes. For my eye sight though? Spectacular. That skill allowed me to root around in my eye ball trying to find the other half of my contact. I did not find it though. So I moved to plan B. My mother.

She washed her hand. I sat down, threw my eye open, and she began rooting around in my eyeball. To no avail. Finally, still hurting from jet lag and at this point just really grumpy, having a floating piece of contact lens in your eyeball will do that to you, I went to bed. With the contact lens still in place. Awesome.

I had no problem falling asleep. I did have a problem staying asleep though. And so, I woke up early and decided that instead of getting up I would pop open my computer and try to catch up on e-mails. Which I did. But my grumpiness returned as I realized that I still had a piece of contact in my eye. About an hour later I’d had enough of e-mails and headed to the shower. And then, sweet release. The contact popped out. It looked like a small puss filled larva. It was disgusting. And amazing. And my eye hurt like hell. So glasses it was. Well glasses it was because I didn’t have any other contacts.

Which has proven to be a bit of a problem for me. I don’t have the actual prescription for my contacts. Instead I have the packaging from the contacts I have been using. You know, the one with the prescription written directly on it. I went to my eye doctor, I went to an online distributor, I went to a retailer. All said I had to have the actual prescription. No one explained why. I just thought they wanted me to pay for a new eye exam. Finally, several days after the search began, I was informed that it was required by law. That means that contact lenses are considered to be some sort of controlled substance. Which is ridiculous.

I wasn’t planning on ingesting my contacts. I wasn’t planning on injecting them. Or snorting them. Or smoking them. Glad to see the American public is being protected from those evil substances. Like contact lenses.

But fine, I e-mailed my eye doctor in Sweden because of the time difference. And received no response for two days. So I called on the third. They actually don’t check their e-mail. Which is an excellent service to have then. But they were happy to help and would fax me the prescription. But it didn’t show up. An e-mail did though last night (apparently they have learned how to use that newfangled electronic mail). They can’t fax it. Instead, snail mail it is. And so, my contact prescription is crossing the Atlantic. Still days away.

Welcome to the US. And Swedish-American eye exchange.

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  1. So your eye is ok???
    I had a very similar experience trying to get contact lenses in the US last summer, I finally found an optician that was willing to sell them with no prespription (I lost it long ago) - it fell like a was buying drugs from a dealer. Something reeeeeally illegal, buying contact lenses with no prescription. Pffffff

  2. my eye is ok now. it took a couple of days but I feel much better. think I just scratched it up a bit with the lens in there and then me rooting around.

    I imagine you in a dark alley sliding some money to a guy in a trench coat who then hands the lenses over.

  3. I would've just had a new exam at Lenscrafters or some place similar - would've been faster than waiting for the Swedes!

  4. Unbelievable! So they send you an email to tell you that they are sending the prescription by regular mail. But they could not scan the prescription and send it with the email. Well... then again, they've just learned how to use that newfangled thingy and are still working on learning how to use the fax machine :P

  5. I had some friends visit from Narvik, Norway two weeks ago (I live in Washington State) and one said that he had gone to get his contacts refilled here and had brought his prescription (yes, the actual piece of paper) with him. However, they would not refill his prescription here because it was a Norwegian prescription--and they only fill American prescriptions. I hope that this isn't the case for you... but be prepared to get an eye exam by an American doctor!

  6. owww.

    I am afraid that what Michael K posted might happen to you =/. I used to work at Lenscrafters and this sounds familiar.

  7. I know exactly the feeling. I actually had a prescription from my Swedish eye doctor but none in the U.S. would accept that as a valid proof either. And me holding ten used contact linse cases where the strength was written upon it was apparently not enough...So I gave up and used my glasses instead...

  8. Sambo is the solution to all your problems. You later thank me.

  9. Hairy Swede - what is the conclusion here? Did the US eye doctor accept the Swedish prescription?

  10. Good to know, I'll buy some more before crossing the Atlantic. Because that just doesn't make sense to get an extra examination.

  11. Honestly, there are some things that the US (the land of capitalism and free choice) does not get right.

    1. Contact lenses: Getting them in the US is a great pain in the ass. Also, that optometricians are called doctors and that people use their health insurance for simple things like eye exams really screws things up if you're not in the system. In the end I had to order online to a friend in Sweden who mailed the contacts to me.

    2. Mobile phones and pre-paid: Don't get me started on this one. The US providers have essentially created a monopoly that makes USSR blush. To buy an unlocked phone you have to order from amazon or go to small stores that sell second hand unlocked phones. In Europe all the providers sell phones both locked and unlocked! Also, to get or to fill upp a pre-paid sim card you can go to any convenience store, anywhere! Oh, it is beyond my understanding how people can accept to pay horrendous prices to receive calls!

    3. Banks: Abysmal online security, extortionate prices...

    4. US air carriers and airports: old, filthy, overcrowded, rude security staff, etc, etc...

    5. Customer service over the phone: Most often to India to someone who barely understands what you are saying...

  12. The bureaucracy involved in such simple things is astounding. I had no idea contacts were considered a controlled substance (and yes, I think it's a ploy to get people to pay for an extra eye exam).

    In any case, welcome (back) to America! :)


  13. So glad to see you are still blogging. I was worried you would stop when you left sweden. I'm the opposite to you-I just arrived (13 days and counting he he). best of luck as you settle back in to the States, and I look forward to reading your next post. Regards, Julie.

  14. Does this mean you are done with Sweden? I just found your blog, looking for information about Stockholm for a novel I am writing. I haven't been there yet. Your description of how to get to Stockholm from the airport really helped because my character had to do just that. Thanks!

    I will look back on your older posts for more information.


  15. Uhm...can I just ask why you didn't just have another eye exam? Wouldn't that have been a lot easier? And an American one too - I bet the sellers of the plastic controlled substances over there would much prefer a local prescription, no? Or order them online? Is that not possible? Isn't there a or something similar? I just got a new pair of glasses - ordered online - they arrived in two days time and only cost SEK666! Awesome!

    On another note my left eye started bleeding yesterday. The eyeball. But I'm sure that had nothing to do with aforementioned new glasses, as I was wearing contacts at the time.

    Take care of yourself and those eyes now!

  16. @PiNG – maybe, but it’s the principle of the thing. And Im cheap.

    @asazevedo – yeah, it was a mind boggling series of events.

    @Michael K – I actually managed to get my prescription filled with the Swedish one. No problems at all.

    @Jessy – luckily, I had nothing to do with lenscrafters. Ive been going to a little local place since I got contacts in the 9th grade.

    @Magnus – its just so ridiculous.

    @anonymous – aah, gotcha.

    @anonymous – they sure did. I was pretty excited. Im writing this with my brand spanking new contact lenses in.

    @Todd – good call.

    @Jesper – well no one ever said it was perfect. Actually, someone probably did say that at some point, but oh well.

    @anonymous (Samantha) – agreed, but I foiled their plot. And thanks!

    @MadEnglishWoman40 – well they will just be a bit sporadic here in the beginning. Hope the move has been going well for you!

    @Erika C. – not done, but not living there for a little bit. Feel free to shoot me an email if youd like!

    @terander – yes. And I can answer you. I am cheap. And I already ahd one. And it was very recent. And did I mention I am cheap? And in terms of ordering online, I tried. And they needed me to fax a prescription to them. They are very sneaky.

    I will definitely take care of my eyes, but may I suggest that you do the same? Bleeding eyeballs are not good. Ever.