• Vol. 36 No. 10, S9–S14
  • 15 October 2007

The Emerging Challenge of Age-related Eye Diseases in Singapore



Introduction: Eye diseases directly or indirectly related to ageing, such as cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy constitute a significant cause of ocular morbidity in the elderly population. There is an increasing prevalence of age-related eye diseases (AREDs), a pattern that has already been evident in other developed country such as the United States of America. As a country reputed for her rapid progression to the status of a developed country, Singapore is not likely to be an exception to this trend. Methods: A literature search was carried out pertaining to AREDs and its impact on the community and the imposed economic burdens. Results: AREDs form a substantial proportion of the current public health disease burden due to the high morbidity and rehabilitation costs associated with visual loss. Although the exact figures are unknown, it is predictable that the increased prevalence of AREDs will result in greater consumption of healthcare resources. Several risk factors have been implicated in the development of AREDs. Conclusions: Through the modification of risk factors, patients may be able to prevent or delay the onset of visual loss associated with AREDs. It is therefore the onus of every health professional to be aware of the impact of AREDs and to rise to this emerging challenge by encouraging patients to take a more active role in the management of their ocular health.

Singapore has one of the fastest ageing populations in the world today. The current elderly population, defined as persons 65 years or older, comprises 7% of Singapore’s total population and is expected to multiply almost threefold to 19% by the year 2030.1 Although the current figure stands at 7%, the elderly population consumes 20% of public sector primary care and hospital services.1 To address the challenges brought on by an ageing population, a Committee on Ageing Issues (CAI) was set up in 2004 by the Singapore government. CAI’s vision is to achieve “Successful Ageing for Singapore” by enabling the elderly to maintain health, independence and security through the involvement of society.2

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