Free eye checks and discount on spectacles for cabbies

Taxi driver Henry Tay, 44, getting a free eye screening from Ms Khai Siu, 20, a student clinician with Singapore Polytechnic (SP). Close to  2,000 cabbies will get free eye checks and half-priced spectacles  from Oct 20  till Dec
Taxi driver Henry Tay, 44, getting a free eye screening from Ms Khai Siu, 20, a student clinician with Singapore Polytechnic (SP). Close to  2,000 cabbies will get free eye checks and half-priced spectacles  from Oct 20  till Dec 6. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

SINGAPORE- Close to 2,000 cabbies will get free eye checks and half-priced spectacles from Oct 20 till Dec 6.

This is part of the second phase of the Taxi Drivers Eye Care Ambassador Programme, organised by optics company Essilor, the National Taxi Association (NTA) and other health and optometry bodies. The third phase of this programme will reach out to another 16,000 cabbies. In the first phase of the campaign, 200 taxi drivers had their eyes checked and at least 20 cases of suspected glaucoma and cataract were picked up.

Taxi drivers will be tested for potential blinding eye conditions like cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic renopathy.

"These conditions are more common among elderly over 50, some of whom may be taxi drivers" said Dr N. Rajeev, senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic's optometry and vision science department. "We hope to detect the conditions early so we can treat them."

The free eye tests will also determine instances of short-sightedness and long-sightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia so that the taxi drivers can get prescription glasses if needed. They will get a 50 per cent discount for spectacles under the scheme.

"Some taxi drivers have said that it is too costly to get new glasses, so this will help them," said executive advisor to the NTA, Ang Hin Kee.

Mr Ng Hong Wee, 69, was one cabby who had attended the first phase of tested which picked up that he was suffering from glaucoma. "I didn't suspect anything because my eyes felt fine," he said. "But I was lucky that it is picked up early, my friend knew of his glaucoma only when he had a sharp pain in his eyes."

Taxi drivers may go down to the Singapore Polytechnic Optometry Centre and the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Optometry Centre for their free eye checks but they must first book a slot with NTA.