SINGAPORE - A vision care programme was launched on Friday (Oct 30) by ophthalmics company Essilor to provide 300,000 migrant workers living in dormitories with free eyecare education and reading glasses for those who require them.
Launched under Essilor's philanthropic arm, Essilor Vision Foundation, in partnership with the Migrant Workers' Centre, the programme is expected to last three years with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of good vision.
The initiative follows the discovery that migrant workers, aged 40 and above, at community care facilities suffered from presbyopia - a form of near vision impairment which occurs naturally with ageing.
Dr Blanche Lim, senior resident of the Department of Ophthalmology at the National University Hospital, who was providing care to the workers at the facilities, said that increased use of digital gadgets and near work during the quarantine period brought to light the issue of presbyopia, especially among those who were older.
Her team shared their insights with Essilor, which decided to launch the vision care programme.
In the first phrase of the programme, migrant workers will take eye tests at Essilor's PutVisionFirst website to determine if they have any issues with their vision.
Those who require reading glasses will be able to select a pair suitable at migrant workers' recreation centres around the island.
Once the Covid-19 pandemic has eased, comprehensive vision screenings can then be made available for the migrant workers to detect other conditions, such as myopia. Free prescription glasses will be provided to them.
The chairman of Essilor International, Mr Hubert Sagnières, said: "With migrant workers' vision needs coming to the forefront during this pandemic, we see it as our responsibility... to correct and protect their sight so they can continue to work and live safely."
Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo, who was a guest of honour at the launch event, said: "To be safe at the workplace, the workers must be able to read instructions, and to be able to see clearly. So I see this (vision care initiative) as not just meaningful, but also synergistic... in keeping with our objectives in (ensuring) workplace safety for the protection of our migrant workers.
"It is always heartwarming to witness the collaborative efforts of our partners in caring for our migrant workers' health, safety and well-being. Hope to see more of such initiatives come to fruition," she added.