Visit optometrists for regular eye screening

Eye conditions can be picked up by optometrists during eye exams when customers are measured for spectacles or contact lenses.
Eye conditions can be picked up by optometrists during eye exams when customers are measured for spectacles or contact lenses.ST FILE PHOTO

It is always sad to hear of botched medical cases, especially when permanent damage has occurred to one of our most important senses ("Doc suspended over botched eye case"; last Friday).

Glaucoma is not uncommon in Singapore and is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Unfortunately, there are rarely any symptoms of the condition until it is too late, resulting in permanent partial or complete loss of vision.

Angle-closure glaucoma is caused by a sudden rise in eye pressure due to a blockage in the eye's drainage system.

This is an emergency situation and treatment must be sought without delay.

This condition can be easily diagnosed, even before symptoms develop, by using a special piece of equipment called a slit lamp.

This is a specially adapted microscope for the viewing of the structures of the human eye and can be found at optometrist and ophthalmologist clinics.

Optometrists are primary eyecare professionals who have gone through tertiary education and are licensed to practise by the Optometrists and Opticians Board, which comes under the Ministry of Health.

Optometrists are trained to diagnose many eye conditions and to refer patients for treatment, if necessary.

Optometrists are in a unique position to see patients who do not have any symptoms of eye diseases, but simply want to be measured for a pair of spectacles or contact lenses.

It is at these visits that many eye conditions are picked up.

Early diagnosis means cheaper and shorter treatment, with a much better visual outcome.

It is estimated that half of patients with glaucoma are not aware of their condition.

Therefore, the public are advised not to shrug off this all-important eye health screening by optometrists, as it is an important part of a comprehensive optometric eye exam.

Optometrists are an important part of the healthcare system in Singapore.

It is hoped that, together, we can eradicate avoidable blindness by detecting eye conditions early on in the disease process.

Roland Izaac

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'Visit optometrists for regular eye screening'. Print Edition | Subscribe