With the Circuit Breaker period being imposed on all Singaporeans, we’re all encouraged to stay home as much as possible and find alternative means to continue our daily activities.
Once work or school is out, we’ll hang out (virtually) with friends to play online games, or just nua and binge-watch the next drama on our ‘Must-Watch’ list.
Sometimes, until as late as 3am.
Given that we can’t go outside.
Our routines at home revolve around the same thing: screens, screens, and more SCREENS.
I have found myself continuously staring at screens all day err day.
And it has definitely taken a toll on my eyes.
So… it got me thinking about how different my life would be if I had perfect eyesight.
And would my finances be better off if I had taken better care of my eyesight?
Myopia in Singapore
Did you know that Singapore has one of the highest myopia rates in the world?
In fact, one in five children in Singapore becomes myopic when they start Primary School.
I’d say that the stats are accurate as there are VERY few people whom I know have perfect eyesight.
And it’s no wonder that optical shops are considered as Essential Services even during Circuit Breaker.
Even more essential than my bubble tea and favourite fast-food chain…
How Much Does It Cost to Be Myopic in Singapore?
Being short-sighted costs money.
While it’s not like I can’t see anything if I choose not to do anything about it.
All the time.
(Please don’t ask us if we can see what number you’re putting up…)
So it’s not like I can avoid spending that money if I wish to see properly.
“How much does it cost to be myopic?” you ask.
Assuming you become short-sighted in Primary 1, and that you eventually save up to go for LASIK when you’re 23 years old — that’s a total of 16 years of living with myopia.
Let’s find out!
Cost of Glasses
When it comes to spectacles, I’ve narrowed it down to three different price tiers:
- Lower Tier (eg. neighbourhood optical shops): Average $100
- Middle Tier (eg. OwnDays or Zoff): Average $200
- Higher Tier (eg. Cartier eyewear): Average $600
Note: you’ll need to factor an additional $50 for special lenses to treat problems like myopia, astigmatism, far-sightedness, and etc.
Assuming we go with a mid-tier option, and have to change it every 2 years — due to wear and tear, and your degree will probably deepen too.
Total amount spent for 16 years (Primary 1 to 23 years old): $2,000
The Problem With Wearing Spectacles
To all the 90’s kids, I believe we can all remember a time when Half Framed glasses were the in-thing.
From Oval Framed to Half Framed, then to Tinted Glasses, and today’s ‘Korean’ Round Spectacles.
Times have really changed.
Wearing glasses used to be a defining trait of nerds and geeks.
(I still remember being teased as a Four-Eyed Girl or 四眼妹)
But now, glasses are considered a fashion accessory and it’s trendy to wear one.
I guess I thought I was a ‘trendsetter’ when I thought it was “cool” and occasionally wore my sister’s spectacles for fun.
But I’ve got major regrets now, considering that it probably contributed to my myopia…
More importantly, it really isn’t that “cool” to have to wear spectacles.
Anyone who wears glasses will be able to relate to these pains:
- You can’t walk out a cold room without having your glasses fogging up
- You can’t exercise with glasses as they’ll jump about and threaten to fall off your nose anytime
- You can’t lie on your side with glasses because your frames will push into your temples
(This list of problems is not exhaustive by the way.)
Which is why, for convenience’s sake, many of us will eventually turn to contact lenses when we get older.
Usually around the time we enter Secondary school.
Cost of Contact Lenses
As for contact lenses, there are a few different types: daily, bi-weekly, and monthly.
If you wear contacts lenses very often, monthly contact lenses are cheaper and generally more value for money.
On the other hand, if you rarely wear contacts, then a daily one will suffice.
I’ve tried all three, and here’s an average of how much you’d spend:
- Daily Disposable: $40 per month
- Weekly Disposable: $15 per month
- Monthly Disposable: $9 per month
There are also overnight contact lenses, otherwise known as ortho-k lenses.
Which you can wear in your sleep and be able to see perfectly throughout the day.
However, these lenses are pricier and can cost up to $2,000 annually.
Assuming you use a box of weekly disposables at $15 per month for 10 years.
Total amount spent for 10 years (Secondary 1 to 23 years old): $1,800
The Problem With Wearing Contact Lenses
While contact lenses are much more convenient as compared to spectacles.
It’s really strenuous on the eyes if you wear them for long periods of time.
Which is why you’ll probably still need your glasses to rest your eyes (read: extra cost).
You’ll also need to get eye drops because your eyes might dry out from wearing contacts.
And there’s the risk of your contact lens dropping out when you blink too fast or something gets into your eyes and you rub a little too hard.
Eventually, most of us will start thinking of going for LASIK to correct our eyesight once and for all.
Cost of LASIK Surgery
There are several types of LASIK treatments available, and these are the more popular ones:
- LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis): $3,500 to $4,500
- Advanced Surface Ablation (Epi-LASIK/LASEK): $3,600 to $4,000
- ReLEx SMILE (Refractive Lenticule Extraction, Small Incision Lenticule Extraction): $5,000 to $6,000
Total amount spent for LASIK surgery: $4,000 (on average)
So… How Much I Can Potentially Save By Simply Taking Care of My Eyes?
If we add up everything over a span of 16 years, you would have spent at least $7,800 on myopia alone!
This also means that someone with perfect eyesight would be $7,800 richer by 23 years old, because they wouldn’t have had to spend that money on their eyes.
(Assuming they saved diligently of course.)
Thoughts on Myopia
While we might clock more screen time while working or studying at home during Circuit Breaker.
We have to remember to give our eyes a break by following the 20-20-20 Rule:
- Take a break every 20 minutes
- Focus on an object or greenery that is at least 20 feet (6m) away
- Do so for at least 20 seconds
(Everything in moderation, just like the 50-30-20 Rule for personal finance.)
Fun fact: my house used to be painted green because my mum said that it was better for our eyes.
(I’m not sure if cucumbers really do help our eyes though…)
Alternatively, you could consider activities that do not require a screen.
Perhaps, you could go old school and read a book or play some board games with your family.
You can even plan breaks and build a habit of exercising regularly!
Or if you are a family of 4 and have a mahjong set at home…
You can take this chance to hone your skills for your next Chinese New Year gambling… I mean, gathering!
It’s been a little over a month since the start of the Circuit Breaker.
Kudos to all of us who have survived thus far and let’s keep going for the next month!
Remember to take care of yourself and your eyes!