By Lisa Ong
Principal Optometrist,
Optometry Service
Singapore National Eye Centre

Patients with impaired vision often have orientation and mobility difficulties, and this can affect their schoolwork, housework or jobs.

While we optometrists can do our best to provide them with the best optical aids, there are many other important aspects of their lives that have been impacted by their visual impairments that are beyond our expertise.

For instance, many children with low vision are struggling to cope with school even with their low vision aids. For many years, we could only send letters to school requesting for extended exam time and priority front row seats in class for these children. Their difficulties in coping with school work and exams are still poorly understood by their school teachers.

That situation has changed, thanks to the iC2 Prephouse programme that was started some two years ago.

We are now able to extend low vision care for these children beyond the clinic and into the classroom, working closely with teachers for the visually impaired to provide comprehensive education and rehabilitative programmes for these children.

Collaborating with other allied health professionals – such as the occupational therapists, social workers or teachers for the visually impaired – who have the expertise to help these patients has also proven to be efficacious in helping these patients.

In recent years, we have also started working closely with the SGH occupational therapists in co-managing low vision care.

Patients who need to be managed by SGH occupational therapists no longer have to travel to SGH from SNEC. The SNEC staff lounge was re-designed to transform it into a mock-up kitchen that is low vision friendly. This allows our SGH colleagues to conduct in-house therapy sessions at SNEC.

By incorporating support systems outside of SNEC into the patients’ treatment, we can better address the issues most salient to them. Concerted efforts can lead to more holistic treatments, and in the long run, improve patients’ quality of life.