The Role of Optometry In Singapore

Who are our Primary Eye care providers in Singapore?

Optometrists and Opticians are the primary eye care providers in Singapore. Optometrists are eye care professionals who conduct various eye examinations, prescribe appropriate glasses or contact lenses and also advise patients on visual problems. Optometrists are trained to detect common eye conditions such as cataracts, dry eyes, squints in children and more sight-threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration for early intervention.

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Optometrists in the NHG Eye Institute (NHGEI) @ Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), conduct various eye examinations and work closely with doctors in co-managing various eye diseases at our Stable Eye Condition Clinic (SECC).

We also sub-specialise in a wide range of services such as Low Vision, Therapeutic Contact Lens Clinic, Ultrasonography, Paediatric and Fundus Image Reading services.

Why is there a need for Primary Eye care providers?

With the high proportion of myopia in the Singapore population, there has always been a high demand for both Optometrists and Opticians. Many people require prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses.

The increasing ageing population in Singapore requires Optometrists to step up and take on roles as primary eye care providers even more crucially now than ever before. As the population ages, agerelated eye disease prevalence increases proportionately, with more patients presenting conditions such as cataract, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma, among many other examples.

With Optometrists as the first line of response where eye care is needed, we are able to provide primary eye care services that are more accessible to the population, by providing assistance such as tele-ophthalmology services at the Polyclinics. This in turn allows the eye doctors to concentrate on managing more urgent and complex eye diseases.

What is the greatest misconception surrounding the Primary Eye care role?

The greatest misconception of our profession is that the Optometrist’s role is solely in the prescription of glasses and contact lenses for patients. In reality, Optometrists are very well versed in operating various ophthalmic instruments and in diagnosing many eye conditions. The job scope has expanded tremendously in these past few years, to meet the changing needs of the population. Take for example, our role in supporting the tele-ophthalmology services in the polyclinic setting. Polyclinic doctors refer patients to Optometrists at the polyclinic, and during the teleophthalmology session, they also perform various eye investigations and consultation for patients.

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Within TTSH, Optometrists also work alongside our eye doctors to see patients in our Stable Eye Condition Clinic (SECC). Patients with stable eye conditions are referred by eye doctors to be seen by the Optometrists in the SECC for their annual review. Patients with various conditions such as early cataracts, early diabetic retinopathy and early age related macular degenerations are managed by the Optometrist during SECC sessions. In addition, Optometrists also provides Fundus Image Reading services in the polyclinics for patients being followed up at the polyclinic for diabetes.

In summary, the role of Optometrists and Opticians as primary eye care providers in Singapore is increasingly important. With greater confidence in their knowledge and skills, they will be able to contribute more to society. Together, Optometrists can work hand-in-hand with our fellow Ophthalmologists in providing better quality and more accessible eye care for the population.