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Understanding Eye Surgery: Conditions, Treatments and Options in Singapore

What eye conditions warrant surgery?

The eye may be a small organ but it is the most complex after the brain with over 2 million working parts. There are many types of eye conditions and diseases. Whether an eye condition or disease warrants any eye surgery in Singapore is dependent on the severity and the impact it has on the vision. Some common eye conditions or diseases that may require eye surgery include cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy, damaged cornea or refractive errors (eg myopia, astigmatism). 

It will be prudent to consult an ophthalmologist to determine the most appropriate course of action based on individual circumstances and needs.


We will share more on the various types of eye conditions or diseases:

1. Cataract

Cataract occurs when the natural crystalline lens of the eye becomes cloudy thereby causing blurry vision. If the condition becomes severe and left untreated, it can result in loss of vision. Cataract typically develops slowly and is commonly associated with ageing. It can also develop as a result of medical conditions like diabetes, an injury or taking of certain medication. Cataract can affect one or both eyes and is a leading cause of vision loss worldwide.

Cataract surgery involves removing the cloudy crystalline lens and implanting an artificial intraocular lens to regain clear vision. Cataract surgery is one of the most common type of eye surgeries performed in Singapore and worldwide.

For Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents, a cataract operation in Singapore is Medisave-claimable (up to $2,450 per eye). If applicable, the procedure is also insurance-claimable. 

Eye Cataract Screening Singapore

Most people can opt to have a cataract operations in Singapore mainly at private eye centres or government hospitals. Cataract surgery fees in Singapore can range from $7,000 to $12,000 per eye depending on various factors including:

  • Location of surgery
  • Type of anaesthesia used
  • Type of intraocular lens used
  • Seniority and experience of cataract surgeon

2. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition whereby there is increased pressure in the eye. This increased intraocular pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, which leads to gradual vision loss and can potentially lead to blindness if left untreated. Glaucoma often develops slowly with almost no symptoms in the early stage, hence it is often known as ‘the silent thief of sight’. 

As glaucoma progresses, it can cause peripheral vision loss and eventually central vision loss. There are several types of glaucoma including primary open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma and secondary glaucoma, each with its causes and treatment. Early detection and treatment are key to managing glaucoma and preventing vision loss.

Glaucoma Eye Condition

3. Retinal detachment

Retinal detachment is a serious eye condition where the retina (the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye) detaches from its normal position. It can happen due to injury, ageing or underlying eye conditions. When the retina detaches, it becomes separated from the underlying supportive tissues and blood vessels that provide oxygen and nutrients.

Symptoms of a retinal detachment include a sudden increase in the number of floaters (spots or cobweb-like shapes in the vision), flashes of light and a curtain-like shadow or darkening of peripheral vision. If left untreated, retinal detachment can lead to permanent loss of vision.

This condition requires emergency surgery such as scleral buckling, retinopexy or vitrectomy to reattach the retina to prevent permanent loss of vision. Early detection and prompt treatment are crucial to preserve the vision.

Causes of Retinal Tears and Detachments Singapore

4. Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a result of diabetes that affects the eye. It occurs when high levels of blood sugar damage the blood vessels in the retina. Over time, these damaged blood vessels may leak fluid or blood into the retina leading to vision problems. 

In severe cases of diabetic retinopathy, surgery may be required to remove blood or scar tissue from the retina or to treat abnormal blood vessels that are leaking blood into the eye.

Other treatment options for diabetic retinopathy include laser therapy to seal the blood vessels that are leaking and injections of anti-VEGF medications to reduce abnormal blood vessel growth. Strict control of blood sugar levels and other aspects of diabetes management can also help prevent or slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy in its early stages does not usually show symptoms. Hence, it is advisable to have regular eye exams for early detection and treatment.

5. Damaged cornea

The cornea is the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil. Some common causes of cornea damage include:

  • Trauma: Direct injury to the eye, such as from blunt force trauma, foreign objects or chemical burns.
  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can lead to corneal inflammation (keratitis), which may cause scarring and vision impairment if not treated timely.
  • Dry eye: Insufficient tear production or poor tear quality can lead to dryness of the cornea resulting in irritation, inflammation and damage to the corneal surface.
  • Contact lens wear: Improper use, poor hygiene, or extended use of contact lenses can increase the risk of corneal abrasions and infections.
  • Corneal dystrophies: Inherited disorders that affect the structure and function of the cornea such as Fuchs’ dystrophy or keratoconus can lead to corneal thinning, clouding, or irregularities.

Protecting the eye from injury, practising good eye hygiene, using appropriate protective eyewear and seeking prompt medical attention for any signs of corneal damage or infection can help prevent and manage corneal problems.

6. Refractive errors

Refractive errors occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing directly on the retina resulting in blurred vision. The following are refractive errors:

  • Myopia occurs when the eye is longer than normal or the cornea is too curved. 
  • Hyperopia occurs when the eye is shorter than normal or the cornea is too flat. 
  • Astigmatism occurs when the cornea or lens has an irregular shape causing distorted or blurred vision at all distances. 
  • Presbyopia is a condition where the lens of the eye loses its flexibility making it difficult to focus on close objects for those in their 40s. 

While refractive errors are commonly corrected with glasses or contact lenses, more and more people are turning to refractive surgery like LASIK and implantable contact lenses for convenience and a better quality of life.

Woman Wearing Eye Glasses

Contact us

If you do experience eye pain, discomfort, blurring of vision, vision loss or anything out of the norm, you may contact Eye Max Centre at +65 6694 1000 or to schedule an appointment with our ophthalmologist.