By Syafiq Asyraf Kusni, Masters Optometry Student, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

‘The eyes are the window to your soul.’

William Shakespeare meant it as a deeper insight into your inner thought. For the eye care professional, it is the window to your overall health.

I was given the opportunity to undergo a week of clinical attachment at International Eye Cataract Retina Centre in Farrer Park Medical Centre and Singapore International Eye Cataract Retina Centre in Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, guided by experienced and well-known ophthalmologist Dr Au Eong Kah Guan. As a final year Masters optometry student from the Queensland University of Technology, Australia, it gave me a deep insight into the private healthcare sector in my homeland and how ophthalmologists and optometrists can work hand in hand in improving eye health in Singapore.

The centre has a strong team of well-trained optometrists who assist in the daily running of the clinic and conduct pre-consultation eye examinations before a patient consults with the ophthalmologist. The clinic is equipped with numerous state-of-the-art machines, from taking an ultrawide-field picture of the back of the eye to scanning the different individual layers of the retina. The results obtained aid in the diagnosis, management and review of numerous common eye conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

Optometrists can also play a role in the early detection of the above-mentioned eye diseases. By referring these suspects early to an ophthalmologist, it allows for early intervention and higher chances of saving their sight. Dr Au Eong was also constantly eager to share his thoughts on how optometrists can play a role in primary eye care such as management of progressive myopia in children and simple dry eye conditions which affect many middle-aged and elderly Singaporeans.

My most memorable experience would be watching two cataract surgeries first-hand conducted back to back. The first patient had a small pupil which posed a challenge to the surgeon. In fact, the patient has had his cataract surgery in the same eye aborted by his local surgeon three days earlier in a neighbouring country because the pupil was too small for the surgeon to proceed safely. He then came to Singapore for cataract surgery by Dr Au Eong. With Dr Au Eong’s skills and expertise, he was able to carry out the surgery successfully and without any complication. It was a privilege to be able to watch the surgeries at such a close proximity through the assistant’s scope.

The experience I had was one that no reading of a textbook or listening to a lecture could provide. I would like to thank Dr Au Eong and his team for being warm and welcoming, and also giving me this attachment opportunity.