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16 Aug 2019

16th Aug 2019

Prof Ivy Ng, Group CEO, SingHealth

Prof Wong Tien Yin, Medical Director, Singapore National Eye Centre

Distinguished guests

Colleagues

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. A very good afternoon. It is my pleasure to be here at the official opening of the Singapore National Eye Centre’s Myopia Centre (SNEC).

Increased prevalence of myopia a rising concern

2. The prevalence of myopia in Singapore is among the highest in the world, with 65 percent of our children being myopic by Primary 6, and 83 percent of young adults being myopic. As such, Singapore is often labelled as the “Myopia Capital of the World”. By 2050, it is projected that 80 to 90 per cent of all Singaporean adults above 18 years old will be myopic and 15 to 25 per cent of these individuals may have high myopia.

3. High myopia puts one at risk of many eye disorders later in life, such as early cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. These complications often cause significant morbidity and may even be sight-threatening.

4. Hence there is an urgent and growing need for synergistic efforts to counter myopia. SNEC’s Myopia Centre is one such national effort to bring together healthcare professionals to not just provide care and early detection for myopia, but also educate the public on preventive measures, as well as collaborate with relevant stakeholders to advance clinical research in this area.

Education, prevention and early detection

5. To tackle myopia in our children, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has put in place the National Myopia Prevention Programme since 2001, which includes annual vision screening in pre-schools, primary and secondary schools. This is complemented by a comprehensive health promotion programme that encourages outdoor activities as spending time outdoors can prevent or delay the onset of myopia.

6. NurtureSG, an effort co-led by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, also recognised that parents play an important role in their child’s eye care. In July 2017, the taskforce published a mini-booklet, 5 Habit Hacks For A Healthier Child, to educate parents on the importance of more time outdoors to prevent the early onset of myopia.

7. Alongside the efforts of HPB and the NurtureSG Taskforce, SNEC’s Myopia Centre will form strong partnerships with eye care professionals in the community to inculcate good eye habits, encourage appropriate screening for myopia and explore innovative ways to raise awareness on myopia and myopia preventive care.

8. I understand that SNEC will be launching a children’s picture book about prevention of myopia today as a start of their efforts on myopia education and prevention. I am heartened that the clinical directors of the Myopia Centre authored this book and will continue to work on such initiatives to advocate good eye health, and share these resources with fellow Singaporeans.

9. Apart from prevention, early detection is important as effective treatment options are available to prevent myopia progression and the onset of complications. I am delighted to know that SNEC will be providing free screening to about 40 children from PAP Community Foundation (PCF), Muhammadiyah, and Children’s Wishing Well at this event today.

Exploring new models of care to reduce reliance on ophthalmologists


10. Over-reliance on specialist care to manage myopia will not be sustainable given the backdrop of rising myopia on top of the increasing eye care needs of our ageing population. In SNEC’s Myopia Centre, our optometrists will play a larger role in assessing and managing myopia with oversight from our doctors.

11. Today, SNEC will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Singapore Polytechnic, which enables SNEC’s Myopia Centre to host educational activities, provide clinical attachments and internship programs for optometry students and post-graduates. The concerted effort to share expertise and provide optometry students with learning opportunities will help to build capabilities, enabling more coordinated care for our patients.

Advancing clinical research, industry and international collaboration

12. Research is also key to bringing about better care for people living with myopia. The Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI), has been involved in myopia research since 1996 and over the past 20 years, SERI has successfully developed the protocol for low dose atropine eye drop usage to retard myopia progression in children above six. Myopine, the product developed based on this research, has demonstrated up to a 60% reduction in myopia progression in children. Myopine is available for patients at SNEC and other hospitals in Singapore, and is currently licensed to countries throughout Asia and Europe. SNEC’s Myopia Centre will continue to adopt such evidence-based protocols and support the myopia research efforts of SNEC and SERI.

13. Last year, SERI-SNEC launched a collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Vision (JJV) to better understand the causes of myopia as well as further develop prevention and treatment modalities. JJV’s collaboration with SNEC and SERI illustrates the clear commitment by all parties to manage myopia in Asia and beyond. The outcome of these research and collaborations are encouraging.

Closing

14. In closing, I would like to congratulate SNEC on the launch of its Myopia Centre. I wish the Myopia Centre success in reaching out to the public on prevention measures, managing myopia with best clinical practices, and contributing to research to advance myopia care not only for Singaporeans but on a global scale.

Thank you.




Category: Speeches Highlights