Is Cuba Nearsighted or Farsighted?

HAVANA TIMES – A colleague was recently telling me about his problems with nearsightedness. I responded that I had problems with all types of vision: near, medium, and far. He laughed, but I wasn’t lying to him.

I have problems seeing far away, because I’m myopic and that’s something you suffer since birth. I have problems seeing close-up because I’m past forty, and generally after this age, close-up vision begins to diminish. And, frankly, I didn’t even know that medium-distance vision problems existed, but I found out about it by going to the government’s Miramar Optical Clinic, on Frexes street in Holguin, between Maceo and Martiles.

There was an enormous device with a screen that gave the data. They gave me three different prescriptions, and the service cost $125 Cuban pesos. The price of ordering the glasses from this same establishment was around $1300 pesos, and they also offered some choices of frames.

I learned from this visit that I had defects in all the fields of visions that are currently measured.

The attention wasn’t bad, and they remarked that I could order all the glasses I might need there – except those for the medium-distance vision, because they didn’t yet make these in Cuba, at least in Holguin.

For the first time in my life, I was tested with that machine that would tell you on the spot all your eye prescriptions.

Months later, a medical student friend of mine came to visit. He commented that the second ophthalmoscope [instrument with several lenses that allows an eye doctor to examine the back of the eye] in our province was no more. It had been located in the Miramar Optical Clinic, which they had now closed.

In other words, right now, I can’t resolve my problem or order any of my lenses from that center, because it – like so many others of greater or lesser importance – has disappeared from the city, practically without a trace.

What was the Miramar Optical Clinic in Holguín.

Now I’ll have to turn to one of the private, centers. The few remaining state optical clinics are hard to access (I’m talking about immense lines, entire days spent waiting your turn), and the quality of service isn’t the best. These private centers have begun to arise in force, and contrary to all the predictions from 30 or 40 years ago, guarantee still more their work. However, the service in these clinics, of course, is a lot more expensive – we’re talking about some $5,000 Cuban pesos. That’s a lot, considering that an average monthly salary in Cuba is between 5 and 6,000 pesos, and a retirement pension check ranges from about $1200 to $6000 pesos a month.

Many Cubans believe that although Cuba still calls itself the land of socialism, it’s now becoming – not even little by little – a system of savage capitalism, as the old labels would call it. I find myself sharing their opinion. More than a feeling, it’s a belief that touches us as a concrete reality.

Read more from the diary of Lien Estrada here.

Lien Estrada

I am a lover of animals. I am passionate about a good book, a good movie, or a good conversation. I can't help but regret that I don't enjoy studying exact sciences. I am glad to have read Krishnamurti from a very young age. My upbringing is Christian, but I am fascinated by all religions, especially those of the East. The sea is another world that I find captivating.