Health Minister: More needs to be done to educate seniors on how to tackle poor eyesight

Poor eyesight is a significant burden with an ageing population, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in his opening address at the Singapore National Eye Centre 25th Anniversary International Meeting on Saturday morning. Few of Singapore's seniors are
Poor eyesight is a significant burden with an ageing population, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in his opening address at the Singapore National Eye Centre 25th Anniversary International Meeting on Saturday morning. Few of Singapore's seniors are aware of the importance of eye health. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Poor eyesight is a significant burden with an ageing population, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in his opening address at the Singapore National Eye Centre 25th Anniversary International Meeting on Saturday morning.

People with poor eyesight are three times more likely to have problems with moving around and even in doing simple daily activities such as bathing or eating. They are also twice as likely to be depressed or anxious than someone with normal vision.

Few of Singapore's seniors are aware of the importance of eye health. Said Mr Gan: "Nine in 10 assume there is no need to have regular eye checks if they can see well. Some viewed eye diseases as a normal part of aging and that there is nothing they can do to prevent vision loss. Clearly more needs to be done for public education to increase awareness and promote regular vision and eye checks."

One initiative, he said, is the Singapore Integrated Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programme where diabetic patients can have their eyes screened with a retinal camera operated by trained nurses. The images are sent to centralised centres where they are read by experts, instead of by the family doctor as is the common practice now.

This is already in place for eight polyclinics and will be available at all by early next year, and should help more than 110,000 diabetic patients.