The best prevention in healthcare programs is early detection and treatment with minimal damage to the body. The current health checks which Singaporeans have accepted unfortunately often do not encompass an eye check. The common practice is for persons requiring an eye check to visit an ophthalmologist, have the eye pupils dilated(a process called mydriasis) and undergo a battery of eye tests and examination. There is a subsequent problem with light sensitivity for up to three hours. Many persons find the mydriatic process uncomfortable and time consuming. Costs and clinic waiting time are other issues to some.
The high risk groups in Singapore are those over 40 and those persons who have diabetes(regardless of age).Those over 40 years of age are more prone to Age Related Macular Degeneration(AMD) and Glaucoma,and cataract while the Diabetics have a much higher risk of Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Edemas, and Glaucoma. Many academic papers also include those who have hypertension(high blood pressure) and hyperlipidemia(high cholesterol and high triglycerides) in the high clusters who may be more prone to develop eye diseases which if not detected early and treated may result in major visual acuity impairment and even blindness.
An Astraltec subsidiary ,Astral Ocular, has licensed from Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) a protocol to apply telehealth to screen and conduct eye checks for those who require such services.This same protocol is used to screen over 100,000 patients annually under the Singapore Integrated Diabetic Retinopathy Program(SiDRP) by the Singapore Ministry of Health. Diabetic patients have their eye (Fundus) photographs taken in 18 polyclinics nationwide.These photographs are sent wirelessly to Grading Centres. In these centres trained non medical staff(graders or not doctors or nurses) interpret and grade these eye images as belonging to those
i. who are Normal (who will be given appointments for future screening) or
ii. who have symptoms of cataract,DR,Glaucoma or AMD(who will be immediately referred to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for immediate treatment and management.
The eye photographs are taken at the polyclinics by special cameras called fundus cameras and the persons having eye photographs taken normally do not need to have their pupils dilated by medical eyedrops.
Astral Ocular will roll out a membership based website called Eyetess and using the protocol developed by Singapore National Eye Centre offer to the Singapore public an affordable,convenient and comfortable service to have their eyes screened.