Singapore

TTSH's glaucoma patients can now test eye pressure at home

Rather than making multiple trips to the hospital to test their eye pressure, glaucoma patients at Tan Tock Seng Hospital will now be able to get the job done at home with the help of a handheld device.

This way of data collection also makes it easier for doctors to treat patients, because they are working with information gathered over a week instead of a few separate occasions.

"Eye pressure varies with the time of day, and from day-to-day... so more measurements are better," said the head of the glaucoma service at the National Healthcare Group (NHG) Eye Institute at TTSH, Dr Leonard Yip.

Glaucoma is a chronic condition where pressure builds up within the eye and damages the optic nerve.

Last year, TTSH saw about 6,000 outpatient visits for the condition, which is the main cause of blindness in Singapore.

The trouble with glaucoma, said Dr Yip, is that some patients may be referred to the hospital for high eye pressure readings, but do not have the same problem when readings are retaken in hospital.

Two to three consultations are therefore needed before doctors can confirm whether someone has the disease.

The hospital carried out a 20-patient trial of the home measurement device before launching the loan service last in September.

Subsidised patients pay $6 a day to rent the device and need to rent it for a week on average.

A total of 24 people have rented it so far. Feedback from patients has been generally positive, said Dr Yip, with most people noting that it was easy to use, painless and safe.

One of these patients was Mr Shaun Nathan, who took his eye pressure twice a day after being taught how to use the device.

"It was very simple," said the 52-year-old IT operations specialist.

"The only issue was that sometimes you accidentally move, and so the measurement might be a bit off."

Mr Nathan also attended a programme led by TTSH nurse clinicians to teach patients more about the medical condition and how to apply eye drops.

He said that the education programme was detailed, adding: "To be frank, I had heard about glaucoma, but I didn't really know how it affects a person - but during the course, they explained the good, the bad and the ugly."

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