Interview With An Ophthalmologist In Singapore, Dr David Chan

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Dr David Chan is the Medical Director and Senior Consultant Eye Surgeon at Atlas Eye Specialist Centre. Led by him, Atlas Eye has treated many patients with various types of eye conditions. Continue scrolling to get to know Dr Chan better through this Q&A article.

Why did you specialise in ophthalmology?

Like all branches in medicine, ophthalmology has the potential to make a significant difference in helping patients overcome disability, enhancing their performance at work and restoring joy to individuals pursuing their passion in art and sports. The positive impacts made to sportsmen, soldiers, travellers, mountain climbers, aircrew or grandparents by simply being able to recognise the faces of their loved ones and reclaim their independence are priceless. Personally, the demands of attention to details whilst harnessing the latest in modern medical technology make for a happy marriage and speak to my innate curiosity and love for all things science. I find the challenge highly invigorating and it is what gets me out of bed everyday. It helps that I am a photography and sci-fi buff so I am constantly amused by the use of lasers, ultrasound, scopes, cameras, heads-up displays, etc.

What inspired you to start Atlas Eye?

We wanted to be different. We looked at the local landscape of eye centres providing laser vision correction (LVC) and found that many were either large corporations or had partnered with investment funds. We felt there was a need to establish an eye centre that would be independently-owned and operated by surgeons, to provide a more personalised service to patients, and to deeply involve patients in all surgical decisions and choices with the hope that it would significantly improve patient satisfaction above and beyond what existed before Atlas Eye was founded. Hence, when we started, we chose to go the extra mile when it came to technology, staff training and surgical excellence. We did not just want to be ok. We wanted to be great for patients seeking LVC and cataract surgery. Beyond just technology, we try our best to maintain our human touch. We give our surgical patients a call on their surgery day once they arrive home to check on their well-being. They are also given a number to call in times of emergency. We advise all our patients to take ample time to consider before making a decision about their surgery. We do not offer same day LVC evaluation and surgery though we can as we believe this will affect the surgical outcome. We prefer patients to feel fully comfortable and fully confident in their decisions that way.  

What are your goals for Atlas Eye?

Our goal is to help as many patients as we can to improve and restore their vision, and place their well-being at the centre of all we do.  

What are your values as an ophthalmologist?

To do my best each and every time for each and every one of my patient.

In your opinion, is ReLEx SMILE the best laser vision correction procedure and why?

ReLEx SMILE in many ways was developed out of lessons learnt from LASIK and Advanced Surface Ablation (PRK, LASEK, epi-LASIK, TransPRK), combining the qualities of both – SMILE has comparable speed and comfort of recovery as LASIK and yet does not create a corneal flap as Advanced Surface Ablation. The accompanying results are lower incidence of dry eye and flap-related complications. That being said, I will not say SMILE is the best. The type of laser treatment, be it SMILE, LASIK or PRK, one goes for is largely dependent on one’s suitability, lifestyle needs, professional requirements and budget. The treatment needs to be customised to the patient’s needs. 

What would the future of LVC treatments be like? How do you envision the future of LVC treatments to be like?

The very first effort by a surgeon is to keep each and every patient safe. I foresee new treatments will continue pushing the boundaries of accuracy, safety and long-term stability of LVC. SMILE is a case in point. The trend will see the range of choices available to the surgeon expand to customise treatments for each patient. Gone are the days when there was just one or two “best” treatments.

What are some common misconceptions about laser vision correction (LVC) amongst Singaporeans?

  • Most doctors wear glasses so LVC is probably not as safe as many eye doctors make it out to be.
  • Everyone is suitable for LVC.
  • Contact lens is safer than LVC.
  • LVC is a high-risk surgery with low patient satisfaction.
  • LVC is only for vain people.

Some people are still fearful of LVC treatments. They would rather wear contacts/specs than to go for LVC. How can you convince them that LVC treatments are safe and effective?

We are not into the idea of persuading or convincing anyone to have LVC done. There are various reasons why one chooses to have LVC done or not. Some people are happy with glasses or contact lenses and do not see the added value of having LVC done. Some may not be medically suitable for the procedure as a result of thin corneas, irregularly shaped corneas or underlying issues like cataract, glaucoma etc. Some will get it done simply because of convenience or have developed intolerance to contact lenses or because of the nature of their professions or hobbies. Ultimately, it all boils down to personal choice, lifestyle or professional needs and requirements.

Why should people choose Atlas Eye over eye centres?

We get asked this question all the time. We like to believe that we are an eye centre that walks the talk. What you see is what you get. The answer becomes apparent when you choose to set foot in and experience it for yourself.

patient centric