Thursday, 17 November 2016

Forum: Iris can be altered by disease, injury, treatment - Updated with reply from ICA

I read with interest the announcement of iris scanning for identification purposes by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority ("ICA to start collecting iris images for border clearance"; yesterday).

As an ophthalmologist, I have no doubt about the accuracy of iris imaging for identification purposes.

But the permanence of the human iris configuration is not a given.

The iris can be affected by eye diseases such as eye inflammation, and pigmentary and vascular disorders.

Episodes of extreme eye pressure elevation (glaucoma) can also affect iris muscles, and hence affect the appearance of the iris.

Furthermore, eye doctors often perform laser surgery on the iris for the treatment of glaucoma, effectively puncturing a hole or creating contractile scars on the iris to alleviate eye pressure.

In some unique cases, we even have to affix artificial lenses on the iris. Complications of eye surgery can also cause iris scars or defects.

Eye trauma is another instance where the iris may be altered.

Although milder cases may be imperceptible, severe injuries may require iris repair surgery, some to the extent of requiring implantation of artificial irises.

The advancement in artificial irises has been a milestone in eye reconstruction surgery.

State-of-the art artificial irises can now be matched both in colour and detail to another eye. Such artificial irises restore not only vision and visual quality, but also appearance and self-confidence, particularly in eyes with light-coloured irises.

I hope that the authorities are cognisant of the developments in the medical field with regard to eye diseases and treatments involving the iris.

When the need arises, the public may require the necessary support from their eyecare providers for certification of identity, such as in the event of eye disease, injury and treatment.

Daphne Han Chuk Yin (Dr)



Reply: Iris images to complement other forms of identification

We thank Dr Daphne Han Chuk Yin for her feedback ("Iris can be altered by disease, injury, treatment"; Nov 12).

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) recognises that different personal biometric identifiers come with their own unique characteristics, as well as inherent limitations.

For instance, fingerprints can fade over time, while a person will also look different with age.

This is why it is important for the ICA to adopt a multi-modal approach to biometrics. The use of iris images complements existing identification methods using fingerprints and facial images, and will help strengthen the identification process.

For people whose iris images cannot be effectively scanned or enrolled due to disease or surgery, the ICA will rely on these other identifiers to verify their identity.

Brenda Tham (Ms)
Deputy Head
Public and Internal Communications
Corporate Communications Division
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority

Cycling drastically lowers your risk of having a heart attack

Cycling in middle age dramatically reduces the risk of suffering a heart attack in later life, a major study reveals.

As little as 30 minutes a week has a marked effect on the chance of developing coronary heart disease over the next 20 years.

People who consistently spent 90 minutes on their bike a week were 24% less likely to develop angina or have a heart attack, where else half an hour a week has 16% reduced risk.

Therefore, the more you cycle, it is likely that you will NOT have a high chance of a heart attack.


Veganism gaining ground in Singapore

1. for better skin conditions like acne, eczema
2. for better medical conditions like asthma, chronic diseases
3. for moral or environmental reasons
4. for healthier lifestyle like unhealthy body weight or better in sports and work

Is it better for health?
The myth that you need meat to be healthy and strong is disappearing. Increasingly, scientific evidence shows that there are health advantages to a plant-based diet, such as a lower risk of heart disease, cancer and lower cholesterol.

Is it safe?
While plant protein can replace meat protein, it cannot truly be a substitute for all nutrients as certain nutrients like vitamin B12 and D have no plant-based equivalent. But of course vitamin D is available from sunlight and vitamin B12 is available as food supplement.

A vegan diet is suitable for people of all ages, including children. It has to be planned well to meet each individual’s nutritional needs. Make sure that other sources of nutrients to replace those usually found in animal foods are available or risk nutritional deficiencies.

A common deficiency is not eating enough full-protein food which causes vegans to have under-developed bones and muscles as full-protein food are found more in animals than vegetables. You have to learn to mix and match food to get full-protein benefits.

Support group
Animal Allies, an outreach project of the Vegetarian Society Singapore (VSS) that provides support to help people go vegan.


You may want to read Should your child go vegan?