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07 Nov 2022

11th May 2021

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye
MP for Radin Mas SMC

Question No. 698

To ask the Minister for Health (a) in the past 10 years, how many cases of myopia-related eye disorders has the Singapore National Eye Centre treated; (b) of these, what is the percentage of cases that could have been prevented if the patient had good myopia preventive care when they were young; and (c) whether the National Myopia Prevention Programme launched in 2001 has shown any progress in preventing children from developing myopia.

Written Answer

1 Myopia can result in complications due to the eye condition and/or myopia correction (e.g., contact lens wear).  The Singapore National Eye Centre High Myopia Clinic was set up in 2018 to provide specialised care for patients with high myopia and has seen an average of about 800 patients yearly.

2 Myopia starts and progresses through childhood and stabilises in the late teenage years.  Therefore, early intervention of myopia is important.  Studies have shown that preventive measures such as increased outdoor time can delay the onset of myopia and myopic progression in children and the development of high myopia in young adults.[1,2] It is estimated that increased outdoor time may reduce the prevalence of myopia by 13% in children, and consequently, a potential 12% reduction in high myopia prevalence amongst future cohorts of young adults.  By reducing myopia progression rate to 50%, through the combined use of pharmacological (such as atropine eye drops) and optical therapies, the prevalence of high myopia could potentially be reduced further by up to 90%. 

3 Recognising that myopia prevention is important, the National Myopia Prevention Programme (NMPP) was launched in 2001 as a multi-pronged strategy driven by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Singapore National Eye Centre.  The programme aims to delay the onset of myopia and reduce its progression in children through annual vision screening and education, including talks held in schools and webinars for parents on good eye care habits.  Based on a study conducted in 12 Primary schools, the proportion of Primary school students with myopia and high myopia has fallen from 37.7% to 29.3%, and 2.3% to 1.4% respectively from 2004 to 2017.

4 In addition, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) requires preschools that provide full-day services to provide 60 minutes of physical activity daily, with at least 30 minutes outdoors or 45 minutes thrice weekly outdoors or its equivalent.  HPB has also worked with ECDA to extend vision screening to preschools, as well as organised eye care talks to equip parents with skills to inculcate good eye care habits among their children.  In 2018, SNEC also established the Myopia Centre at Bedok to improve follow-up for adults and children with progressive myopia, including tailored treatment and education. These efforts introduced will take time for its full effects to be seen.

5 We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of our myopia prevention efforts and promote evidence-based interventions to delay onset and reduce the progression of myopia for children in Singapore. 

[1]  Jonas JB, Ang M, Cho P, et al. IMI Prevention of Myopia and Its Progression. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2021;62:6.
[2]  Saw SM, Matsumura S, Hoang QV. Prevention and Management of Myopia and Myopic Pathology. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2019;60:488-99.