The Different Ways You Could Lose Your Sight
Article by Chew’s Optics Specialist. 21 November 2023
Since its days as a quiet fishing village, Singapore has grown rapidly and exponentially into one of the most successful countries in the world. Amidst its growing prosperity, however, the nation was suffering a decline in a surprising area – the eye health of its population.
Today, Singapore is known as the myopia capital of the world. Tomorrow, and further in the future, who knows how things might worsen? Will rising vision loss become our next big epidemic?
To keep this potential future at bay, raising awareness of how one might lose their eyesight is key. Here are the possible causes of permanent blindness, according to a Singapore optometrist.
5 most common causes of vision loss in Singapore
Among the various causes of blindness in the world, cataracts top them all. For Singaporeans, more than 30% of those aged 45 and above live with cataracts, while 80% of people aged 60 and above and 95% of people above 70 have the condition.
If you don’t know what cataracts are, they look like cloudy spots on the lens of your eye. They typically develop as you age, but your risk of developing them can also increase with excessive exposure to UV rays.
Other possible causes include diabetes, eye injuries and genetic factors. Although cataracts are naturally irreversible, the good news is that you can surgically remove them.
2. Age-related macular degeneration
A major cause of blindness for Singaporeans above the age of 50, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the part of your retina that allows you to see fine details.
There are two types of AMD: Wet AMD and dry AMD. The former occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under your retina, leading to sudden vision loss. The latter is marked by a slower, more gradual loss of vision, thought to be caused by genetic and environmental factors.
At the moment, there is no cure for dry AMD. The key to battling dry AMD is detecting it early so that you can slow its progression through a treatment plan. For wet AMD, it’s possible to cure it if detected and diagnosed early.
Glaucoma is an eye condition where increased pressure within the eye causes damage to the optic nerve. This pressure is created because your eye is unable to drain fluid normally or quickly enough. Over time, as the damage worsens, it can create blind spots in your vision – possibly leading to permanent and irreversible blindness.
According to the Glaucoma Association of Singapore, this eye disease accounts for 40% of blindness in Singapore. While it tends to be more common among those over the age of 70, glaucoma can affect people of all ages, including newborns. For the elderly, family history is a key risk factor for this disease.
The scariest part about glaucoma is that it’s notoriously hard to detect during its early stages. Details about the actual causes of glaucoma are also murky, so your best bet for prevention is to get your eyes checked by an optometrist in Singapore regularly.
4. Diabetic retinopathy
In Singapore, one in three individuals is at risk of developing diabetes, says the Ministry of Health. And with the prevalence of this disease, comes the increased risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
For working-age adults in Singapore, diabetic retinopathy is the single, most common cause of vision loss, according to the Singapore National Eye Centre.
Unfamiliar with the eye condition? Here’s a quick explanation of how it works: When you have high blood sugar levels from diabetes, the blood vessels in the retina of your eye will be affected. They can leak, swell, close off, or even grow in an abnormal way on the retina – all of which may lead to blindness.
5. Severe injury
Sometimes, freak accidents happen. Through blunt force and physical trauma to the eye, partial or complete loss of vision can occur. If you’re exposing yourself to such possible harm, it’s crucial to wear protective gear such as a helmet and safety goggles.
How to prevent losing your eyesight in Singapore
Depending on what’s causing the loss of vision for you, the treatment plan may vary. When it comes to prevention, however, it’s all about the same few principles that apply to general eye care.
Optometrists in Singapore generally recommend a healthy diet, regular exercise, taking regular eye breaks when doing near work, and wearing UV-protected sunglasses, spectacles and contact lenses.
The most important tip of all is to schedule and attend regular eye examinations, during which early signs of eye diseases can be detected. Your optometrist will ensure you’re equipped with the best tools to prevent losing your eyesight, and help get you the right medical attention if anything is amiss.
Get started with your first eye examination at Chew’s Optics now. You can walk into our optical store, or find out more about what to expect at an eye examination here.
We’re located at 144 Teck Whye Lane, #01-211, Singapore. And we’re open daily except Mondays and Fridays. Got questions? Reach out to us directly on WhatsApp at +65 8314 7093.