The need for regular eye checkups has become even more crucial with the increasing prevalence of vision problems in Singapore. Half of the population has some form of eye condition or vision problem, including cataract symptoms. What’s more, 75% of our teenagers have myopia and are dependent on eyeglasses.
It’s important to note that many eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, have no warning signs. Routine eye exams can detect these diseases early, allowing for timely treatment. People aged 40 and above should undergo eye exams to screen for age-related eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and presbyopia. If you have a family history of eye conditions or your job demands more eye-intensive actions (such as spending long hours in front of screens), then more frequent eye checks are recommended.
Early detection of eye diseases, such as cataracts, is crucial for preventing vision loss. Cataracts affect around 80% of people over the age of 60 years and 95% of people over the age of 70 in Singapore. Comprehensive eye exams can detect visual function issues, eye health issues, and conditions such as astigmatism, which can disrupt daily life. They also include an examination of the retina, lens, and optic nerves as part of a regular complete eye checkup. Your doctor may spot other conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, during an eye exam, sometimes before primary care doctors do.
Book a Consultation with Dr Jimmy Lim today.
Common Eye Problems In Singapore
Several common eye diseases and conditions in Singapore significantly impact the population’s vision and eye health.
Cataracts are a condition in which the eye’s clear lens becomes cloudy, preventing sufficient light rays from entering the eye and impairing vision. It is usually a part of the ageing process due to the physical changes in the eye. Cataract symptoms include:
- Blurring of vision.
- Seeing multiple images.
- Poor vision in bright light.
- Seeing halos around lights.
Cataracts are a common eye disease in Singapore, affecting a significant portion of the population. According to a study by the National University Hospital, about 78.6% of elderly patients here have cataracts. Cataracts affect around 80% of people over the age of 60 years and 95% of people over the age of 70 in Singapore. For Singaporeans aged 45 and above, 30% had cataracts. According to research from the Singapore National Eye Centre, cataract cases have increased 37% in the last ten years.
Cataract treatment is typically through surgery, replacing the cloudy lens with an artificial one. Cataract surgery has a high success rate, with more than 90% of patients regaining good vision. Cataract surgery is considered one of the most cost-effective interventions available in Singapore. Modern cataract surgery is a common, safe, and effective procedure, and more than 30,000 cataract operations are carried out annually in Singapore.
Glaucoma, accounting for 40% of blindness in Singapore, is a condition where increased fluid pressure in the eyeball damages the optic nerve. It can lead to gradual loss of sight, often without the patient’s awareness until the disease is advanced. Symptoms include eye pain, redness, headache, nausea, and blurred vision. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for preventing visual loss. Treatment options include medication, laser therapy, or surgery.
This condition is a complication of diabetes and leads to damage to the retinal blood vessels. It’s a leading cause of new blindness in working adults and is increasingly common in Singapore. The risk of diabetic retinopathy increases with the duration of diabetes. Treatment involves controlling blood sugar and blood pressure, and in the early stages, laser photocoagulation can prevent further damage.
Lazy Eye (Amblyopia)
Amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that didn’t develop regular sight during early childhood. It’s commonly caused by differences in refractive power between the two eyes, squints, or obstructions like cataracts. Treatment involves forcing the child to use the lazy eye, often by patching the good eye and is more effective when started early, ideally before the age of four.
Patient Evaluation for Cataract & Common Eye Problems
During a comprehensive eye checkup, patients undergo a comprehensive eye exam that includes several tests, including:
- VISUAL ACUITY TEST: This test measures the sharpness and clarity of a patient’s vision at different distances.
- SLIT-LAMP EXAM: This process uses a special microscope with an intense line of light to light up the front parts of the eye. It looks at the cornea, iris, lens, and other areas at the front of the eye.
- RETINAL EXAM: A test is performed to examine the retina and optic nerve to detect abnormalities. Eye drops dilate the pupils to get a clear view of the retina.
- PUPIL DILATION: For this type of examination, the doctor widens the pupils to examine the lens and the back of the eye more thoroughly. It is a standard test used in diagnosing cataracts.
Other tests may include eye pressure measurement, tonometry, and eye measurements for cataract surgery. It is important to note that the examinations conducted during an eye checkup may vary depending on the doctor and the patient’s needs.
Learn More About: 5 Compelling Reasons for Regular Diabetic Eye Screening
Maintaining Eye Health
We can’t stress it enough: Regular eye checkups are essential for the early detection of vision issues, including cataracts. Many eye conditions, like glaucoma and cataracts, often develop silently, with symptoms appearing only after significant damage. It’s recommended that adults undergo a comprehensive eye examination every two years and annually after reaching 60 years of age.
It’s also vital to shield your eyes from UV radiation. Continuous exposure to UV rays heightens the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Therefore, it’s advisable to consistently wear sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection and use a wide-brimmed hat outdoors.
Managing chronic conditions that can affect your eyes, such as diabetes and hypertension, is essential. For people with diabetes, this includes yearly screenings for diabetic retinopathy. Knowing your family’s eye health history is also beneficial, as many eye diseases have hereditary links. Discussing these potential risks with your ophthalmologist can guide preventive measures.
To mitigate eye strain from digital screens, limit screen time and practise the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. Also, position screens at eye level and ensure lighting conditions minimise glare.
A diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals is crucial for eye health. Foods high in vitamins C and E and minerals like zinc support vision health. Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish, can help stave off macular degeneration. At the same time, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale are excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Staying well-hydrated is vital for the health of your eye’s tear film, so drink plenty of water throughout the day. Regular exercise like walking or cycling improves blood circulation, enhancing eye oxygen levels and helping eliminate toxins.
Lastly, smoking cessation is critical, as smoking elevates the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and damage to the optic nerve. By adopting these practices, you can significantly contribute to preserving your eye health.
Why JL Eye Specialists in Singapore
At JL Eye Specialists, we aim to provide personalised and comprehensive care of your eye conditions from your first visit. If you are a first-time patient, you should bring your past eye investigation results and medical reports. Please also bring along the pair of spectacles that you usually use. For the first visit, a dilated eye examination may be required. The eye drops used to dilate your pupils may lead to blurring of near vision and some light sensitivity. These effects may last from half a day to a day. It is best to bring along sunglasses, and if you drive, it is recommended to have alternative transport arrangements.
Our Medical Director, Dr Lim Wei Kheong Jimmy — MBBS, MMed (Ophth), MRCSEd (Ophth), FRCSEd (Ophth), FAMS — is a seasoned ophthalmologist with extensive training and experience in cataract, refractive surgery (LASIK), and cornea. Dr Jimmy Lim‘s background includes a senior consultancy and deputy head role at the National Healthcare Group Eye Institute, respected fellowships in the USA and Switzerland, and his contributions to ophthalmology.
If you know what eye problem you already have or have any queries regarding your first visit, please schedule a consultation or call us at 6258-8966.