SUSPECTING that his myopia had worsened, retiree John Lim went to his regular spectacles shop to get a new pair of glasses two years ago.
But it was actually a detached retina that was causing his blurred vision. This was discovered after optometrist Koh Liang Hwee put Mr Lim through a comprehensive eye test.
"I'm glad I took that extra 15 minutes to check my eye health," said the 58-year-old, who later went for urgent surgery. "It saved my sight."
Unlike Mr Lim, many people do not undergo checks on the health of their eyes even though they can ask for it at most spectacles shops.
Optometrists – who are not the same as opticians, and are trained to carry out such examinations – say the checks should be done as they can help uncover eye diseases.
The checks usually involve examining structures at the front and back of the eye for signs of potentially blinding diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
All spectacle shops that sell contact lenses should have an optometrist, said Dr Koh, president of the Singapore Optometric Association, speaking on the sidelines of the 5th Asean Optometric Conference yesterday.
The cost of such checks is usually waived when customers make spectacles or buy contact lenses from the shop, he added.
"When Singaporeans go to a spectacles shop, they usually expect staff to check their myopia and prescribe new glasses," said Dr Koh. But poor vision is caused not only by short- or long-sightedness, but also eye diseases, he said.
Optometrist Roland Izaac said the checks are important, given that some diseases like glaucoma, barely show symptoms until the acute stage.
"Some don't know they are suffering from glaucoma and they get migraines when their eye pressure builds up," he said.
"They try to sleep it off with Panadol and next day, when they wake up, their vision deteriorates significantly."
Dr Koh advised high-risk groups like those aged 60 and above, or have a family history of eye disease, to get eye health checks yearly.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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