Eyeing a more accurate reading with home measurement device

Assistant nurse clinician Soo Hoo Wai Cheong and Dr Vernon Yong helping patient Shaun Nathan use a handheld device to measure his eye pressure. With the device, which can be used at home, glaucoma patients do not have to make multiple trips to the ho
Assistant nurse clinician Soo Hoo Wai Cheong and Dr Vernon Yong helping patient Shaun Nathan use a handheld device to measure his eye pressure. With the device, which can be used at home, glaucoma patients do not have to make multiple trips to the hospital to measure their eye pressure.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Rather than making multiple trips to the hospital to test their eye pressure, glaucoma patients at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) can now get the job done at home with the help of a handheld device.

This also makes it easier for doctors to treat patients, because they are working with information gathered over a week instead of a few separate occasions.

"Eye pressure varies with the time of day, and from day to day... so more measurements are better," said head of the glaucoma service at the National Healthcare GroupEye Institute at TTSH, Dr Leonard Yip.

Glaucoma is a chronic condition where pressure builds up within the eye and damages the optic nerve.

Last year, TTSH saw about 6,000 outpatient visits for the condition, which is the main cause of blindness in Singapore.

The trouble with glaucoma, said Dr Yip, is that some patients may be referred to the hospital for high eye-pressure readings, but do not have the same problem when readings are retaken in hospital.

Two to three consultations are therefore needed before doctors can confirm whether or not someone has the disease.

The hospital carried out a 20-patient trial of the home measurement device before launching the loan service in September last year.

Subsidised patients pay $6 a day to rent the device and need to rent it for a week on average. Twenty-four people have rented it so far.

Feedback from patients has been generally positive, said Dr Yip, with most people noting that it was easy to use, painless and safe.

One of these patients is IT operations specialist Shaun Nathan, 52. "It was very simple," he said. "The only issue was that sometimes you accidentally move, and so the measurement might be a bit off."

He also attended a programme led by TTSH nurse clinicians to teach patients more about the medical condition and how to apply eye drops. "I had heard about glaucoma but I didn't really know how it affects a person - but during the course, they explained the good, the bad and the ugly," said Mr Nathan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2017, with the headline 'Eyeing a more accurate reading with home measurement device'. Print Edition | Subscribe