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Go for regular eye check-ups

Hedy Khoo on 18 Feb 2018

The Straits Times


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Ms Hoo Loke Lan, 61, gets timely treatment for eye disease, thanks to community eye screening


The 61-year-old sales promoter began experiencing problems with her vision last May.


Ms Hoo Loke Lan says in Mandarin: "I was lying down on my mat for a five-minute rest after yoga class when I noticed flickering butterfly-like shapes as I looked at the ceiling above."


Attributing this to tiredness, she ignored her eye problem for four months until her niece suggested she go for a community eye screening held last August at Kampung Admiralty, next to Admiralty MRT station.


At the screening, she had to read eye charts and a community nurse checked her eyes using a torchlight.


Some abnormalities were detected and Ms Hoo was referred for more comprehensive checks at Admiralty Medical Centre. She was found to have a cataract and a retinal hole in a part of the inner eye that is responsible for central and colour vision, known as the macula.


Surgery was needed to remove the gel-like substance within the eyeball behind the lens in order to close the hole.


On Oct 10, she had the vitrectomy done. The surgery included the removal of the cataract. To monitor her recovery, she went for regular follow-up appointments with an eye specialist. Ms Hoo's retina has since healed.


She says: "If I hadn't gone for the eye screening, my eye condition would have gone undetected and deteriorated further. I dread to think of the consequences if I did not get my eye treated."


She also regrets not going for an eye screening earlier when she first noticed problems with her eyesight.


"It never crossed my mind that I could have an eye disease as I lead a healthy lifestyle and had no problems with my vision until I was diagnosed with far-sightedness 10 years ago," she says.


Associate Professor Yip Chee Chew, 50, a senior consultant who heads the Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Department at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and the clinical director at Admiralty Medical Centre, says that eye screening can pick up early eye conditions, especially those that are asymptomatic. This enables early treatment and better outcomes.


He says refractive errors are typically detected in eye screening. With the elderly population, other emerging problems are cataracts, diabetic retinopathy (a diabetic eye disease that can result in vision loss) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).


After her experience, Ms Hoo resolves to go for regular health screening and encourages her friends to do so as well.


"As seniors, we need to take an active approach to health by going for basic health checks," she says.


"If a problem is detected, we can get treatment. If there is no problem, we gain peace of mind."


A Ministry of Health spokesman says adults aged 60 and above who have not attended functional screening in the past one year are encouraged to get screened.


Functional screening involves basic checks on vision, hearing and oral health, and can detect any age-related decline in functional ability so that timely intervention can be rendered.


Seniors usually receive their functional screening results on the day of their screening. Those with abnormal results will be advised to seek appropriate follow-up with the relevant healthcare professionals.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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