Having a blurry vision in her left eye so bad that she could not see beyond her left shoulder did not stop Madam Ramsah Alwi from working as a part-time cleaner.
“Even though I couldn’t really see with my left eye, I went to work because I could still use my right eye,” she says.
The 68-year-old cycled to Pasir Ris MRT station to take the train to her office-cleaning job every afternoon. In fact, she continued her daily routine with a blind spot for months till she went for cataract surgery in September.
It was not the ﬁrst time that the cheerful senior had encountered eye problems. In 2014, she had cataract surgery on her right eye. A couple of years later, she experienced a vision problem with her other eye. Although she knew then that she had to get her eyes checked again, she put it off because she did not want to take time off from work to go to the polyclinic.
Madam Ramsah ﬁnally went for functional screening a month after seeing a poster for Project Silver Screen (PSS) in August. She had seen it at the lift landing of the HDB block where she currently lives.
“It was so convenient for me to go for the screening because it was just steps away from my void deck. And it was a Saturday so I didn’t have to take leave,” she says.
A nationwide initiative for seniors aged 60 years and above, PSS aims to detect agerelated decline in seniors’ vision, hearing and oral health early so that timely intervention can be provided to improve their quality of life. The three-in-one screening is held at various community centres and clubs, and residents’ committee centres across the island throughout the year.
It took Madam Ramsah less than 20 minutes to get her eyes, ears and teeth checked at Elias Rise Residents’ Committee Centre.
At the functional screening, Madam Ramsah was assessed to have worse than 6/60 vision in her left eye. This meant that she could not make out facial features farther than a few metres, and relied predominantly on her right eye. She was thus advised to visit the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) mobile eye bus at Pasir Ris Elias Community Centre for further vision checks.
It was there that Madam Ramsah discovered that she had a mature cataract in her left eye that was severely aff ecting her vision.
What followed was a referral to a specialist doctor at SNEC to have the cataract removed. The day surgery took less than 30 minutes and Madam Ramsah recovered quickly.
Improved quality of life
Dr Daniel Chua, a consultant at the General Cataract & Comprehensive Ophthalmology Department at SNEC, shared that Madam Ramsah’s vision might worsen or lead to other eye conditions if she did not have the surgery.
“In such cases, the patient may have a decrease in vision potential of the affected eye or require more complex surgeries,” he adds.
Madam Ramsah’s current perfect eyesight has improved her quality of life. For example, she is able to notice stains and dirt more clearly when she is cleaning. Her wider ﬁ eld of vision helps to make her daily bicycle rides to the MRT station safer too.
Although she does not have other health conditions, she looks out for health screenings organised at community centres because she understands the need to be more vigilant in monitoring her health now that she is in her silver years.
“I want to be healthy so that I can continue to work, spend time with my family and friends, and just enjoy life,” she says.
ABOUT PROJECT SILVER SCREEN (PSS)
• PSS is a nationwide functional screening programme for seniors aged 60 years and above. It is held at various community centres and clubs, and residents’ committee centres across the island.
• The three-in-one screening is free for Pioneer Generation card holders; $2 for Merdeka Generation card holders, Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) Orange and Blue card holders; and $5 for CHAS Green card holders and other eligible Singapore Citizens.
WHERE AND WHEN:
• For more information on the functional screening schedule and their locations, visit www.projectsilverscreen.sg or call the AIC hotline at 1800-650-6060 (Monday to Friday: 8.30am to 8.30pm, and Saturday: 8.30am to 4pm, excluding public holidays).
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