When you're looking up things to do on your vacation to a foreign country, getting a new pair of glasses probably isn't high on your list of to-dos. In my case, getting a new pair of glasses is something I always do when I'm back in Saigon. In between Ky Dồng and Truong Dinh streets of the 3rd district is a small shop that offers eye exams, frames, and new lenses-all in about half an hour!
An unusual thing about shops in Vietnam is that they aren't always spread out across the city. A street might be dedicated to selling just one product. In this case, Ky Dồng street is jam packed with shops that crank out glasses at lightning speed, just like this one. I ask my parents all the time how the shops deal with the competition, or how one even chooses which one to go to, but so far I haven't gotten any answers.
In the case of Mắt Kính Thủy, you can tell they're the best because they're the only shop in the street that's jam packed. I got my glasses done the night before during a huge rainstorm, and there was barely any room to move inside. Today, we took my younger cousin to get a new pair, and it was equally packed.
Whereas in the US you sit in a sterile room on a chair attached to fancy mechanisms for checking your eye health and prescription, the man here has just one machine that measures your prescription, and a briefcase full of different lenses. It might seem archaic, he's never let me down before, and his measurements have always been spot on.
As soon as you get your eyes checked, your prescription is passed on to another employee, who pulls thick chunks of plastic and starts to form the lens. One machine measures out the thickness and another uses intense jets of water to clean off any dust.
The truly fun part happens after this. The flattened out lenses are given to another man, who outlines their shape to fit into your frames, and then cuts them out with a pair of giant scissors. That's right, a pair of giant scissors. I don't know what sort of system he has to ensure that the shape of the lenses are accurate, but it hasn't failed him yet.
After that, he files down the lenses, cleans them off, and pops them into the frames you've chosen. Any adjustments to the size are done by hand, by heating up the frames with a hair dryer attached to his work station. All of this is done in front of you, within thirty minutes to an hour. There's no seven to ten business day wait here!
The glasses I get in Vietnam always feel more comfortable on my eyes than the ones I get in the US. I like to pack all of my old glasses and get new lenses whenever I get the chance to come here. I never feel dizzy or get headaches from them, and I usually do whenever I get a new pair of glasses with a different prescription. I guess there's something to be said for doing things the old fashioned way.
Visit Mắt Kính Thủy at 16/1A Kỳ Đồng , P. 9, Q. 3,TP. Hồ Chí Minh , Vietnam