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See-ing Into The World Of Ophthalmology – Interview with Dr Jovina See

Our eyes are light to our souls, Dr. Jovina See tells us more

dr.seeUnlike her peers, Dr. Jovina See had always known what she wanted to be when she grew up. “I wanted to be an eye doctor! As a child, I had always been fascinated by doctors. I often accompanied my mother to work at the hospital. There I would observe in awe how doctors treated their patients.”

Today, Vice-President of the Glaucoma Surgeons of Singapore, advisor to the Glaucoma Patient Association of Singapore, Dr. See is also Senior Consultant at Shinagawa Lasik Centre. Why Ophthalmology, instead of other medical specialties, we ask. “Eyesight is the most important of our five senses,” Dr. See shares. “We use our eyes to see the world and for everything we do. Being able to restore sight to people is an amazing experience. Among some of my elderly cataract patients, I have seen how restoring sight to them has enabled them to regain their independence and confidence.”

Ezyhealth & Beauty: Do share with us your journey on how you got to where you are today.

Dr. Jovina See: After completing my ‘A’ Levels in Singapore, I went on to study Medicine at the University of Cambridge in England, where I graduated with a Distinction in Surgery. I spent the next few years training to be an eye specialist, rotating through Singapore National Eye Centre, National University Hospital, Changi Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary in New York, USA. After completing my training in Ophthalmology, I sub-specialised in Glaucoma and was conferred the HMDP Glaucoma Fellowship Award which I used to pursue cutting-edge research in glaucoma in Canada. Upon return to Singapore, I was appointed Head of Glaucoma services at the National University Hospital and was Visiting Consultant at the Singapore National Eye Centre. I am now practicing at the Shinagawa LASIK Centre, where I can spend more time with each patient and where the availability of cutting-edge technology enables me to optimize patient management. I am also currently the Vice-President of the Glaucoma Surgeons of Singapore, as well as advisor to the Glaucoma Patient Association of Singapore.

EHB: What are the most common eye problems patients come to see you with?

Dr. See: As myopia (short-sightedness) is so prevalent in Singapore, it is the most common eye problem I see among my patients. Refractive surgery like LASIK helps in restoring their vision without  the need for spectacles or contact lenses, and the improvement they see in their visual function is something they greatly appreciate.

Among my older patients, cataract is the most common eye problem as it is an age-related eye condition that everyone gets in their lifetime. Glaucoma is another common eye condition that I manage in my clinic practice.

EHB: Like any other surgery, eye surgeries must have its risks as well. What are some of them?

Dr. See: Each type of eye surgery will have its own set of risks. Infection, for example, is one of the possible risks, and therefore it is vital that patients maintain hygiene particularly around the eyelid area before and after eye surgery. Dryness of the eyes may also be experienced after LASIK or cataract surgery, but this is transient.

EHB: As an eye surgeon, what are some ways you keep your eyes healthy?

Dr. See: Taking frequent vision breaks, especially when reading, or on the computer. Regular exercise and eating a moderate and healthy diet.

EHB: With such advanced medical technology these days, LASIK has become more than just painless. Share with us the benefits of LASIK.

Dr. See: With advances in refractive surgery, some benefits which are seen with the IntraLase LASIK are a rapid recovery in vision, reduction in discomfort post-surgery, and most importantly, in the safety of the procedure. The quality of vision that can be achieved has also been greatly enhanced with improvements in the laser technique and software programs that are now available.

EHB: Dispel some common myths on Cataract and Glaucoma!

Dr. See: Cataract – A common myth is that cataracts must be ripe before surgery should be done. This myth originated years ago when the older type of large-wound cataract surgery was routinely performed. With the more advanced type of surgery using ultrasound these days, surgery can now be performed much earlier when blurred vision starts to affect daily activities. In fact, a ripe (hard) cataract will actually increase the risks of complications during surgery.

Glaucoma – A common myth is that glaucoma only affects the elderly. Actually glaucoma can affect any age group, including newborns (congenital glaucoma), young children and teenagers (juvenile glaucoma). If glaucoma is not detected early, these young sufferers often end up with a very poor visual outcome. Another common myth is that if eyesight is good, there cannot be any glaucoma present. Glaucoma usually does not cause any symptoms, yet it can be gradually damaging to the eye nerve without the patient realizing. By the time the patient realizes something is wrong with the eyesight, the damage done is already permanent and cannot be reversed.

EHB: Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Dr. See: Continuing to help improve and restore good eyesight to as many people as I can.

EHB: If you weren’t an eye doctor, what would you be?

Dr. See: With a surname like mine, it’s hard not to be an eye doctor (laughs). But seriously, I really love what I do, and I wouldn’t want to be anything else.

By Cheryl Koh

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