Singapore has one of the highest childhood myopia rates globally. Currently, it is projected that 80 to 90 per cent of the adult population will be myopic by 2050.
Clearly, not enough is being done to prevent the onset of myopia.
Dr Wong Meng Ee, associate professor at the National Institute of Education, says: “One of the common misperceptions is that since myopia is so prevalent, it does not warrant further effort and greater attention.”
Dr Wong suffers from an incurable eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa.
According to a research commissioned by Johnson & Johnson, one in two Singaporeans has not had their eye health checked in the past 12 months.
Worse, some think that simple vision screenings are sufficient in determining their eye health. Most are also unaware that early detection can prevent eye disorders caused by high myopia later in life.
Importance of early detection
Regular comprehensive eye health checks can make a world of a difference.
Dr Wong says: “Because deterioration is insidious, it may only be in more advanced stages that the impact of myopia is fully realised. It could then be too late to prevent deterioration.”
With early detection, measures can be taken to slow down the progression of myopia. But when left untreated, higher levels of myopia can increase the risk of severe eye conditions later in life, such as retinal detachment.
Detecting other conditions
In fact, myopia is not the only condition eye health checks can detect.
As someone who has been incorrectly diagnosed due to a lack of sufficient tests, Dr Wong understands the difference early detection through appropriate eye health checks can make.
At seven years of age, he found trouble reading the eye chart during vision screenings. This was unfortunately dismissed as a case of myopia until he realised that glasses prescribed to him for his myopia were of no use.
It was only after further consultations with specialists in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States through eye health checks that he was found to be suffering from retinitis pigmentosa. He was 10 years old when the diagnosis was made.
Dr Wong explains that while vision screenings help to detect potential vision problems, an eye health check is more comprehensive. This is because it can diagnose and offer treatments or referrals for eye diseases as needed.
“Confusing the two may lead the public to think they are receiving sufficient care which may not necessarily be true,” he says.
“Comprehensive eye health checks are crucial for monitoring unusual conditions in eye health, early detection and diagnosis of eye conditions. For patients with existing conditions, eye health checks help with monitoring deterioration or detecting potential secondary conditions to avoid further complications.”
Vision screenings are not eye health checks
There are many other eye conditions that can be detected through an eye health check.
These include glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, which cannot be detected through vision screenings alone.
This is because vision screenings will focus mainly on checking your vision and degree of myopia. Comprehensive eye health checks can provide a holistic analysis of one’s overall eye health.
Checks on the eye pressure, corneal thickness and retinal health can uncover eye conditions that might otherwise go undetected.
Ms Rebecca Li, the professional education solutions manager at Johnson & Johnson Vision, Singapore says in her career, she has seen patients who come in for their first eye check in years because they realised that their vision was getting too blurry for them to read properly.
For example, some think they merely require reading glasses, but may end up finding out that they were suffering from vision loss due to their poorly controlled diabetes.
She says: “I’ve also seen patients who had not had an eye health check in years because they just purchased over the counter ‘magnifiers’, e.g. +1.00 or +2.00D to help them read, only to find that they were no longer working.
“They thought that they needed new glasses, but were actually suffering from wet macular degeneration, which could have been detected and treated earlier if they had gone for annual eye health checkups.”
According to the Optometrists and Optician Board, individuals should have their eye health checked at least once a year to keep eye disorders at bay.
Join the #Sight4More movement
This is why ACUVUE is encouraging Singaporeans to take charge of their eye health as well as to help those in need through its #Sight4More initiative.
For every eye health check completed at a participating optical store in Singapore, ACUVUE will give #Sight4More to four children through eye health education and vision screenings between now and Dec 31.
Participate in this initiative and give #Sight4More through any of the following three ways:
- Purchase any ACUVUE e-ticket via the Official Store on Qoo10 here: https://www.qoo10.sg/shop/acuvue
- Book an appointment for an eye health check at a participating outlet through the MyACUVUE app. New MyACUVUE users get a $20 welcome reward for their first purchase of ACUVUE contact lenses when they download and register.
- Visit a participating optical store and ask for an eye health check.
Existing MyACUVUE members can also redeem the Sight for Kids lifestyle reward — For 1,000 MyACUVUE points, you can support eight children with eye health education and vision screening.