The Three Passions of Dr. René Cabrera

Dr. René CabreraCuenca is a wonderful place to live, with friendly people, colorful traditions and, perhaps best of all, a low cost of living. Three-dollar almuerzos, free museums, two-dollar cab rides, how can you beat that? Most expats, though, have a list of things that just aren’t the same as they were “back home.” Often we have to choose between low-priced / low quality goods and services and paying high prices to get the quality that we desire.

Fortunately for us, Dr. René Cabrera—voted best eye doctor three years in a row on Gringo Post—and his team are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art eye care at affordable prices.

The themes of family and faith run through any conversation with René and his wife, Patricia, so it’s only fitting that two of their four children are involved in the business. Claudia is Patricia’s assistant, and Daniel has just completed medical school and is serving a surgical internship with his father. Daniel, by the way, is well known in Cuenca as a magician, performing under the stage name Daniel Diamante, or Daniel Diamond.

Twenty years ago, through his affiliation with Iglesia Verbo in Cuenca, Dr. Cabrera became part of an organization that would become Fundación Hogar del Ecuador—Ecuador Health Foundation. Along with a variety of other types of medical treatment, the organization performs 800 to 900 eye surgeries per year, at reduced or no charge to poor families, primarily in the provinces of Azuay and Bolívar. About ten years ago he helped to start a committee within the organization dedicated to the prevention of blindness in Ecuador, and currently serves on the committee’s board of directors.

Dr. Cabrera is a native Cuencano, having grown up a few blocks from Parque Calderon. He spent a year in New Mexico as an exchange student, where he learned English. His mastery of the language is fantastic, which is a real plus for expats like me. It is one thing to smile and nod when a taxi driver says something I don’t completely understand, but when it comes to health care, I want to know exactly what is happening.

After graduating from high school in New Mexico, a year ahead of his class, he returned to Cuenca and entered medical school at the Catholic University of Cuenca. It wasn’t until he had nearly completed his studies that his soon-to-be wife, Patricia Sánchez, suggested that he focus on ophthalmology as his specialty. Patricia’s father, Enrique, was a medical doctor with a specialty in optometry. In 1963 he started the business that would be the origin of SOI Ópticas.

Dr. Cabrera served a four-year residency at the hospital Vozandes in Quito and specialized in cataract and retina surgery for a year in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before returning to Cuenca to enter private practice in 1986.

It’s impossible to truly do justice to Dr. Cabrera’s 30 years of experience in an article of this length, but a few of his accomplishments include serving as president of the Society of Ophthalmology of Azuay and being the founding partner of OFTALMOLASER, with an office on Diez de Agosto y Fedrico Proaño. He personally performs over 1000 cataract and retina surgeries per year, and the company has become the most respected center for these procedures in Cuenca, and all of Azuay province.

Like any field of medicine, the practice of ophthalmology is changing very quickly, but Dr. Cabrera and his partners are well equipped to keep up with the changes in technology. In addition to the latest in computerized diagnostic equipment, OFTALMOLASER currently owns six different lasers, allowing them to tailor their treatment to each specific patient.

Patricia Sánchez and her four brothers grew up around the business that their father had begun. In 1986, her brother Juan began to move the company in the direction of fabricating lenses. In 2012, they renamed the company SOI (Sánchez Optical Industries) Ópticas to emphasize the industrial nature of the business. The company has 23 employees and today is the only optometry firm in Cuenca that produces its lenses on-site. All other companies must bring in their lenses from Guayaquil, or farther.

Patricia is now CEO of the company and Juan oversees the industrial process. Fifteen years ago, the company moved to its current location at Florencia Astudillo y Solano, next to the Zahir 360 Hotel.

It was only natural that these two businesses would work together. It is important to note that the two businesses are separate entities, under separate ownership, but it’s also important to note that whatever your eye care needs, the place to start is SOI Ópticas. Dr. Cabrera, along with other skilled professionals, has office hours there. Any required surgery will then be performed at OFTALMOLASER. One-stop shopping at its finest; anything from a pair of sunglasses to the most complex surgical procedure.

For eye care that is equivalent to, or better than, any that you will find in the United States or Canada, at a greatly reduced cost, call for an appointment today.


Did you know?

The Mayo Clinic recommends an eye exam every 1-2 years after age 65. 

The difference between Optometrists and Ophthalmologists?

Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. 

Ophthalmologists are licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.




Telephone: 281-5914 ext. 14 or 281-5912 ext. 14
Address: Florencia Astudillo 3-45 y Av. Solano, Edificio SOI Opticas .Main Location: Stadium zone
Second location: Benigno Malo 7-19 y Presidente Cordova. El Centro zone
Web side:
Facebook: @SoiOpticas
Instagram: @soiopticas
Twitter: @soiopticas

While Susan a medical practitioner from Texas was visiting Cuenca she heard about Dr. Cabrera.  Having delayed cataract surgery for years, she decided to meet with Dr. Cabrera while on vacation.  Cuenca Expats Magazine was there to document Susan’s experience.

CHECKING IN at SOI Ópticas modern 4-story facility

CHECKING IN at SOI Ópticas modern 4-story facility

TOURING the lab, where SOI Ópticas is the only place in Cuenca where they make their patients’ lenses on site

TOURING the lab, where SOI Ópticas is the only place in Cuenca where they make their patients’ lenses on site

Dr. Cabrera voted “BEST EYE DOCTOR” 3 years in a row

Dr. Cabrera voted “BEST EYE DOCTOR” 3 years in a row


CONSULTATION with Dr. Cabrera

Pre-OP Examination

PRE-OP examination using latest state-of-the-art equipment


CATARACT OPERATION at the ultramodern Oftalmolaser surgical center

Post Op

Happy POST-OP patient

Susan reading

After surgery, READING the smallest line of type

Getting new non-perscription sunglasses

Susan shopping for her first pair of non-prescription sunglasses

Susan & Tupac have improved vision in common

The night after surgery, attending a fund raiser for Helping Kids in Ecuador (HKIE), and for the first time seeing perfectly without glasses

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