More Singaporeans suffering from 'low vision'

SINGAPORE - She looks just like a regular student but, for Ms Christina Au, the world is one great blur.

The 22-year-old SIM student suffers from hereditary optic neuropathy, a disorder of nerves and visual pathways that results in blurred vision. Unlike myopia, however, the condition cannot be fixed by corrective lenses.

Ms Au is one of 285 million visually impaired people the World Health Organisation is trying to help through World Sight Day today, an annual day of awareness to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment.

The number of new "low vision" clients at the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped has increased steadily over the past six years. With 158 registered in the last financial year,it now has 3,377 clients.

Ms Au's vision started deteriorating when she was 10 years old.

Today, she copes by using her memory, an eyepiece with 20x magnification, and a smartphone with nearly a dozen transport apps to help her get around independently. She also enjoys baking, karaoke and shopping.

"Despite my disability, the things I enjoy doing, the things I can do, they are like that of any other girls of my age," she said.

tedchen@sph.com.sg ashs@sph.com.sg

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