As a person who has had glaucoma for more than 20 years, I read with some concern the report on a low-cost device that can be used by patients to measure their intraocular eye pressure at home (Spurred by dad's glaucoma to develop low-cost eye device, Aug 25).
I commend the research work done by the students from the National University of Singapore to develop the device, which will cost about $50 when mass produced.
Unfortunately, the report may have given patients the perception that glaucoma management is all about intraocular eye pressure.
Through research and discussion with my eye doctors, I understand that glaucoma is a chronic eye disease in which a damaged optic nerve and retina lead to poorer vision.
High eye pressure is just one of the causes of the disease.
It is thus essential that patients have regular comprehensive evaluation by their eye doctors to monitor the progression.
It is a chronic lifelong condition like hypertension.
I agree that it can be very troublesome and expensive to visit the eye clinic regularly, but this is unavoidable to preserve vision.
I suggest that more eye clinics be set up in polyclinics, with eye specialists on hand to minimise inconvenience to elderly patients who are the ones most affected.
With regard to cost, glaucoma should be classified as a chronic condition so that patients can pay for treatment using funds from their MediSave account.
Most of the eye drops and surgical procedures are also not subsidised.
I have suggested this to the Ministry of Health for the past five years and was assured that it is looking into it.
Allowing patients to tap their MediSave funds will help ease their cash outlay and encourage them to go for regular treatment to avoid possible blindness.
The recent changes to MediShield Life coverage to help cancer patients with their outpatient treatment payments is laudable.
I feel that a similar scheme should be considered for glaucoma.