Going to the Optician in Lanzarote

I’ve worn glasses since I was 11 and I always have to wear either glasses or contact lenses. I find with the very strong sunlight we get in Lanzarote, that my photochromic glasses work well but are much better if I also wear a hat with a brim to cut down glare. My lenses are fine with a good pair of sunglasses. However, I only have one pair of photochromic glasses and they are very scratched and battered.


So we set off for our latest adventure – to have my eyes tested and to choose new frames and lenses. We chose Multioptics in the Deiland Centre in Playa Honda as they have a good choice and always seem busy. It was to prove to be the strictest test of my Spanish so far! The shop assistant was very helpful but spoke so quickly I felt I was always 20 words behind him! We didn’t get off to a good start as I filled the form in wrongly, confusing ‘appelido’ (surname) and ‘nombre’ (first name)! But I had taken a copy of my UK prescription from 2 years ago and that was a good starting point.

I didn’t have to make an appointment and only had to wait for a few minutes. I spent this time choosing a new pair of frames from their vast selection and the assistant was very helpful. I find this hard work. I’m so short-sighted that if I take my glasses off, I can’t see the display and when I try a new pair on, I have to get very close to the mirror to see what I look like. Antonio was very understanding and kept bringing me different designs to try.

Once in the examination room with the optician, I found most of the machines were familiar. They didn’t do the puff of air in the eye test I’d had in the UK but everything else was a test I’d had before. This is where the test of my Spanish began. I had revised the names of the letters in Spanish the day before. We had covered this in our Spanish lessons as it helps to able to spell your name or whatever. Most of the letter names are similar but there are a few different ones –‘jota’ is J,’ i griega’ is Y, ‘cu / koo’ is Q and ‘hache’ is H for example. Click here for the complete list of the Spanish Alphabet with useful pronunciation guide.

The optician started with a few numbers (much easier to translate!) but without any glasses at all. The numbers got larger and larger until I could see them. Robin was getting very worried by this stage as I think he thought I was losing my sight altogether! But gradually she put up one number about 20cms high and I saw it!

Most of the tests were rows of letters but there was also the red / green test when you have to say which is clearer. She asked which was ‘mejor’ (better) and I could then answer ‘rojo’ (red) or ‘verde’ (green).

We then moved on to a test where there were 2 circles full of dots and I had to say which was clearer. I started saying ‘izquierda’ (left) but she used the terms arriba (on top) or bajo (below).

The tests were all completed on a large machine before she finally fitted those clunky framed spectacles where the optician drops in different lenses. This time, she asked which was clearer - ‘primera’ (first) or ‘segunda’ (second).

I then had to look at a picture of horizontal and vertical lines and say which were clearer (‘horizontales’ or ‘verticales’.)

I must have done OK as she told me I’d got all the names of the letters right (even if I couldn’t see them!) She complimented my Spanish and then said my prescription had changed very little – perhaps slightly in my left eye and a bit more astigmatism. And yes, she spoke very good English but this was the only bit I needed translating!

Before we went I had felt quite anxious about being able to make myself understood but, as ever, the locals are only ever delighted if you try to speak Spanish to them. So my new ‘gafas’ will be ready in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait!