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Eyes on Poly!


She may be a top student, but she’s forgoing the opportunity to go to university – at least for now.


After all, Carin Tan Lay San believes that she could learn more by getting practical working experience first.


That is even though she topped the Diploma in Optometry course with 33 distinctions and As out of a total of 38 subjects.


But Carin is no stranger to taking the route less trodden. Despite getting an outstanding six points for her GCE ‘O’ Levels, the former Convent of Holy Infant Jesus (Toa Payoh) student chose to take the polytechnic route by applying for the Diploma in Optometry from Singapore Polytechnic as her first choice.


The interest and love to interact with people coupled with the opportunity afforded by an optician to adjust spectacles sparked her ambition to become an optometrist. 


Perhaps it was this passion that led to her topping her course. In fact, Carin also won the Johnson & Johnson Award for two years and Outstanding Performance Award for all six semesters for her outstanding academic achievements.


But life has not always been smooth sailing for Carin. When she was in Secondary One, Carin suffered from a series of unfortunate events which included an appendix operation followed by a spell of migraine and the passing away of her grandfather with whom she was very close to.


For most of her secondary school life, she suffered from a migraine condition that resulted in periods of depression, as she could not concentrate on her studies. But with her mother’s encouragement, she was able to overcome the “lowest days” of her life and do well in her studies.
The streetwise girl is extremely clear that one needs to balance academic knowledge with real work experience.

“Knowledge is vast, we can never stop learning. Even while working, I learn new things everyday. Also, I do self-studying to upgrade myself so that I will be always on the run,” she said.


The opportunity to work with real patients at the SP Optometry Centre – as part of the training in her course – yielded great satisfaction for Carin.


“I always love to see patients and their expressions when they leave the Singapore Polytechnic Optometry Centre with great satisfaction,” she said.  


And Carin admits to having a soft spot for working with children.
“You need to work very hard to gain their trust and go down to their level and I do enjoy the company of children as I love their innocent expressions. Not only having the company of children is fun, it takes great patience to work with them,” said Carin with a broad smile.


Chua Chor Teck Gold Medal
Essilor Singapore Award
Shell Companies In Singapore Prize
Oculus Boston GP Award
Health Sciences Authority Gold Medal
Johnson & Johnson Singapore Award
Alexandra Hospital Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences Prize