SP student picks optometry after seeing grandparents' conditions

Ms Tan Li Min was inspired to take up Opticianry at the Institute of Technical Education because of her grandparents' experiences with poor eyesight.
Ms Tan Li Min was inspired to take up Opticianry at the Institute of Technical Education because of her grandparents' experiences with poor eyesight.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Whenever she visited her grandparents in northern Malaysia, Miss Tan Li Min, 21, would see her grandfather struggling on the stairs because his eyesight had been affected by glaucoma.

He had tunnel vision in one eye, and was completely blind in the other.

But he refused to be house-bound and continued riding his motorbike on the roads in Kedah state, even after he was injured in a road accident.

Miss Tan said of her late grandpa: "I could see how determined my grandfather was to continue living a normal life because he did not want his condition to control his life."

Her grandmother was also later found to have cataracts in both eyes.

Her grandparents' experiences with poor eyesight inspired Miss Tan to take up the Nitec in Opticianry at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

Now in her second year of pursuing a Diploma in Optometry at Singapore Polytechnic (SP), she said: "I saw how important it was to my grandfather that he continued with his daily life despite his condition. I wanted to be able to help more people take care of their sight so they can still enjoy a good quality of life in their old age."

Miss Tan was among student optometrists from SP who recently conducted free screenings of 80 elderly beneficiaries for common eye conditions affecting the elderly such as refractive error, cataract and glaucoma. It was her first time conducting an eye screening.

Miss Tan was also given her first white coat at SP's inaugural White Coat Ceremony on Oct 12.

Mr Dylan Eng, 31, course chair of SP's Diploma in Optometry course, said: "The inaugural White Coat Ceremony is a significant milestone since SP launched the first optometry course in Singapore.

"It is a meaningful occasion for students to pledge their commitment to serving patients with professionalism and quality care in the SP Optometry Centre, the community, and in their future careers.

"We look forward to seeing them grow in their roles as eye care professionals with a heart."