Veronica Koh, Singapore Health

FROM THE OUTSIDE, it looks like any ordinary bus.   But inside, it is fitted out to tackle a host of vision conditions, including cataracts, diabetic retinal disease and glaucoma.

Custom-built with a full range of eye screening and diagnostic equipment, this Mobile Eye Bus is designed to bring eye care to the doorstep of those who need it most – the underprivileged, especially the elderly with poor mobility.

The bus is a project of VisionSave, a national philanthropic initiative by the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and the Singapore Eye Research Institute.   It is part of the drive to create greater awareness of eye disease and fund research for better treatments.

Launched late last year, it is now making its rounds to various locations and nursing homes, so more members of the community can receive eye checks and be educated on eye care.   In the process, it is also collecting data on eye disease in the elderly, and assessing the effectiveness of such door-to-door screening services.

“Vision and eye-related disorders are significant concerns,” said Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State (Health and the Environment and Water Resources), who was at the launch. “Early recognition and treatment of eye conditions, especially in at-risk individuals, are important as these measures can prevent blindness.”

She said those screened in the Mobile Eye Bus will receive screening reports and appropriate advice for follow-ups, if necessary.

“These efforts in research are crucial to enhancing our understanding of eye disease in the elderly and underprivileged, and the impact of in-reach screening services will serve as a reference for future models of service delivery.”

Vision loss from most eye conditions can be effectively reversed, but SNEC has found that one in three people identified with vision loss during community screenings do not seek follow-up care, mainly due to the lack of awareness and/or resources.

Professor Wong Tien Yin, Medical Director, SNEC, said: “We wanted to find ways to make eye care accessible to all segments of society, including the elderly and underprivileged. Through our VisionSave Mobile Eye Bus and VisionSave fundraising initiatives, we hope to help as many people as possible save and preserve their sight.”