Singaporeans called to take charge of their eye health

July 20, 2022
Singaporeans called to take charge of their eye health

A recent study conducted by Johnson & Johnson Vision shows that Singaporeans have poor levels of health literacy despite having one of the highest literacy rates in the world.  This lackadaisical attitude regarding their health is noticeably reflected in Singaporeans’ eye health issues: most refrain from screenings or check-ups unless they are experiencing some form of vision impairment that is affecting their daily lives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define health literacy as the degree to which people have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. According to the Johnson & Johnson Vision study, many health illiterate Singaporeans (48%) refuse regular eye health check-ups, where 12% get their eyes assessed once every three to four years, instead of once every two years, while a significant 32% do not get their eyes examined at all.

It is particularly concerning when close to 30% of those aged 56 and above are not getting their eyes checked as frequently as expected – these people are in the highest risk group for serious eye conditions that can lead to blindness, including cataracts and glaucoma.

Dr. Ronald Yeoh, ophthalmologist at Eye and Retina Surgeons, explained that delays in diagnosis or treatment for certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma, could lead to irreversible vision loss or yield poorer treatment outcomes. He concurs with the findings that some of the patients who visit him have typically reached the late stages of an eye health condition, a few of whom would be experiencing serious vision impairment or vision loss.

The study also looked at the behaviours of younger Singaporeans (30 – 55 years old) versus older Singaporeans (56 years and up). Interestingly, the younger group are more risk-averse and experience more psychological barriers when it comes to seeking help. Younger Singaporeans were revealed to be:

  1. Less aware of where and how to look for information or seek help (young vs. old: 25% vs. 9%)
  2. Hesitant to go for eye health screenings, for fear of detecting a serious health issue (32% vs. 23%)
  3. More worried about the risks or possible complications of surgery compared to the elderly (48% vs. 44%)
  4. More worried about cost and have greater financial concerns compared to the elderly (60% vs. 46%)

As a nation with a rapidly ageing population and the increasing burden of chronic diseases, the need to ensure that Singaporeans are health literate is crucial, regardless of age.

“Our sight is the most precious of our five senses yet we do not do enough to protect it. At Johnson & Johnson Vision, we are champions of people’s ability to clearly see what matters throughout their life,” said Foo Piau Sheng, Regional Director, SEA Commercial Operations, Surgical Vision, Johnson & Johnson Vision.

“Through this survey, we hope to bring attention to the urgent need for Singaporeans, both young and old, to increase their eye health literacy. Make an effort to learn more, be more proactive, and take charge of their own eye health. It’s not about seeing right now. It’s about setting yourself up to see what matters for a lifetime. This begins with comprehensive eye exams every year.”


Category: Community, Features

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