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Starting an eye care revolution with mobile clinics

Bringing the gift of sight to the less fortunate.

If we can see, does that mean our eyes are healthy? It’s an assumption all of us make, but it’s not always true. Many eye conditions such as glaucoma, retinal tears and diabetic retinopathy manifest only at severe stages. By that time, the damage has already been done.

I’ve always believed in regular eye checks to nip such conditions in the bud. But many of us never take the time for this. Our busy schedules never let up, and we tend to leave eye health on the back burner.

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That’s when I thought that it would be more convenient if the eye check came to you instead. Imagine a mobile eye clinic that comes to your place of work and lets you get your eyes checked in complete privacy.

That is why I set up Eye Quotient or EyeQ to bring eye care to workplaces that have employees who are more likely to suffer from digital eye strain, which can lead to eye aches, eye fatigue, difficulty focusing and headaches. About 70 per cent of computer users have digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.

With EyeQ, your eyes are screened for the five leading causes of blindness in Singapore (cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and refractive errors), spectacles will be updated and other eye- related concerns are addressed within 15 minutes, so you’ll still have enough time to grab a cup of coffee.

I want to make eye care more accessible to everyone in the workforce and save them from having to make eye check appointments during personal time. EyeQ raises eye care awareness, promotes a healthy workforce, increases company productivity and boosts the welfare of employees. It also works with companies with an established corporate social responsibility practice to nominate chosen beneficiaries to whom EyeQ will give free eye screenings.

That way, communities that do not have access to good eye care can also benefit. This brings me to my soft spot: underprivileged communities, locally and in underdeveloped communities in rural parts of Cambodia and Indonesia that do not have access to eye care or cannot afford it.

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I started our non-profit charity arm Eye Care Without Borders to help them. One such beneficiary is the Muscular Dystrophy Association. We bring our mobile eye clinic to members who rely on large mobility devices and are not able to receive eye care elsewhere. We also help low-income families supported by Beyond Social Services by targeting the gaps in government assistance programmes.

Even though these families are eligible for government-funded spectacle vouchers, realistically, many of them do not use them because they would rather use their money to buy medication and food. Left to their discretion, spectacles and eye care are often not priorities.

So, we help by providing them with free spectacles and eye care. It warms my heart to see how appreciative they are of these small gestures. Making eye care more mobile, accessible and comprehensible is my goal and I will continue spreading this revolution until eye care becomes a fundamental right for all.

Dr Claudine Pang is the medical director of Asia Retina Eye Surgery Centre and founder of EyeQ & Eye Care Without Borders.