Instead of facing head-on the competition from big, new entrants in dispensing spectacles in a shorter time and at a lower price, small, traditional optical shops helmed by optometrists could shift the focus of their core business from dispensing spectacles to providing primary eyecare services ("New vision for optical shops to stay competitive"; Tuesday).
As many of these shops are conveniently located in the heartland, they are best positioned to provide affordable and hassle-free basic eye-screening services to residents, especially the elderly.
The Ministry of Health could perhaps include these optical shops in the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) so that the needy would have easy and quick access to subsidised eye-screening services.
More importantly, Chas optical shops could refer cases of eye problems detected during the screening to a restructured hospital directly for follow-up investigation and treatment.
The current cumbersome practice, whereby one needs a polyclinic referral just to get a subsidised basic eye examination at a restructured hospital, is a big hassle.
Ng Chee Kheon