Blindness may have been the curse of old age once upon a time. But not in this era, and not when Dr Marcus Ang is in the house. While reviewing patients for an eye screening programme at Singapore National Eye Centre, the ophthalmologist noticed that seniors diagnosed with cataracts or glaucoma tend to skip follow-up treatments.
What kept the elderly away was the perceived unaffordability of treatments, for one thing; plus, seniors who are vision-impaired cannot get to the hospital without help. He convinced Standard Chartered Bank to part with $80,000, and, with the help of fellow opthalmologists and volunteers, he was able to provide complimentary transportation, treatment and medication for the elderly on their first hospital visit.
“WE CAN BRING THE CLINIC TO THOSE WHO ARE LESS MOBILE.”
Further addressing the issues of limited mobility and affordability, Dr Ang and his team, initially supported by the Singapore Society of Ophthalmology and Stanchart’s Seeing Is Believing fund, launched the Mobile Eye Clinic, which would pop up at neighbourhood void decks.
Speaking of an octogenarian tissue-seller who received treatment for cataracts, Dr Ang says: “The change was so profound and she was so happy.” To date, the three-year-old programme has benefited over 3,000 seniors.
The 37-year-old, an honouree at the 2017 President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards, is looking to improve the process further. Last November, he launched the VisionSave Mobile Eye Bus.
Says the good doctor: “We used to unload our equipment at the void deck, but, with this large 45-seater bus fitted with eye screening equipment, we can bring the clinic to those who are less mobile.”