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Setting Sight on Seniors

Dr Marcus Ang’s vision to improve the way community eye care was delivered to those who needed it most led to the birth of Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC).

Winner of President's Award for Volunteerism and/or Philanthropy awards (Individual, Adult Category): Dr Marcus Ang

For Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) Consultant Ophthalmologist Dr Marcus Ang, you could say it all started with a vision. Volunteering at community eye screening programmes helped him see the gap and the need to improve the way such services were delivered. And so the Singapore Society of Ophthalmology (SSO) Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) was born. 

The clinic has helped more than 3,000 beneficiaries islandwide. Beyond the initial evaluation, Dr Ang has, with help from the SSO and various collaborators, enabled beneficiaries to seek follow-up eye care, medication and spectacles, and in some cases, eye surgery.  

A survey showed that of the elderly patients who went for a regular eye screening event, only 25-30% sought further treatment as advised. The MEC programme managed to raise this follow-up rate to almost 70%. This enabled some patients with reversible conditions such as cataracts, to receive timely treatment and regain their vision after surgery. 

Giving back comes naturally to Dr Ang, who started volunteering in school with Interact/Rotary Club at Raffles Institution/Raffles Junior College and with the Children's Cancer Foundation. He believes Singapore already has an "excellent" government subsidised healthcare system so he feels the MEC is a means to "enable and empower" these patients to understand and seek the appropriate care from our existing healthcare system.

Dr Ang is also Director and Head of Vision Projects at a Singapore-based non-profit organisation Global Clinic Ltd. Started in 1997, it has helped needy beneficiaries overseas who cannot get medical care due to poverty or inaccessibility. To date, Global Clinic has treated more than 30,000 individuals in 11 countries. 

On his most recent mission to Myanmar in 2017, Dr Ang and his team of 20 medical professionals helped 2,000 to 3,000 patients and completed more than 270 operations in five days. His volunteer efforts have been previously recognised by awards such as the Healthcare Humanity Award in 2012 and the Young Eye Care Ambassador Award in 2013.


Moving ahead

The MEC project has come a long way from being a small team going from void deck to void deck to what it is today. But Dr Ang's work is clearly not done. He wants to continue to reach out to the remaining 40 per cent of elderly patients with eye disease in certain communities, who are not receiving timely and appropriate treatment. In fact, Dr Ang is about to embark on a larger community-based eye program called ‘ACCESS’ which is under VisionSave, the philanthropy arm of SNEC and the Singapore Eye Research Institute, to reach out to more needy beneficiaries in our community.