Three Singapore docs among top 100 most influential people in ophthalmology

Professor Donald Tan, medical director of the Singapore National Eye Centre, is third on the list. He is cited for his roles in myopia trials, cornea surgery and transplant.
Professor Donald Tan, medical director of the Singapore National Eye Centre, is third on the list. He is cited for his roles in myopia trials, cornea surgery and transplant.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

They are among top 100 most influential people in ophthalmology

Three doctors in Singapore have made it to the list of the world's 100 most influential people in ophthalmology by a British professional journal.

Professor Donald Tan, medical director of the Singapore National Eye Centre, is third among the Who's Who in eye care. He is cited for his roles in myopia trials, cornea surgery and transplant. Prof Tan holds the patent to an instrument that is now widely used in eye transplants.

Singapore is a leading eye transplant centre, and Prof Tan said it has trained more than 70 surgeons from 16 countries in the technique.

Only the top 20 people are ranked.

The other two Singaporeans on the list are Professor Aung Tin, executive director of Singapore Eye Research Institute, and Professor Saw Seang Mei, an epidemiologist with the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

Prof Aung is best known for his insights into angle closure glaucoma, which is the type half the people get. Prof Tan said his discoveries made it possible to develop new diagnostic instruments.

Prof Saw is not an eye doctor, but has worked extensively in the area of myopia, including environmental factors that affect short-sightedness. She is one of only 13 women to make the list.

Of the 100, 51 are from the United States, which is at the cutting-edge of eye care. They are followed by Britain with 10, Germany with five, and Austria, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland with three each.

Singapore has done well to have three on the list, said Prof Tan. "It is a feat indeed, given that we are the smallest country by far on this list."

There are 200,000 ophthalmologists in the world, and Singapore has less than 0.1 per cent of them, he added. He is particularly pleased that the nominations came from outside of Singapore, as "we didn't vote for ourselves".

Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, director of medical services at the Ministry of Health, said: "I am pleased that our doctors are being recognised by their peers in the global arena for their achievements."

He hopes this recognition will spur them to even greater heights, both in delivering better eye care and in advancing science and research in the field.

The list comes from nominations from readers of The Ophthalmologist - with the most coming from Germany, Australia and the US - followed by a selection from among them by five top eye doctors from three continents.

Although the journal started only last year and so is quite new, Prof Tan said the list has many heavyweights.

Heading the list is German Thoe Seiler, founder of the Institute for Refractive and Ophthalmic Surgery in Zurich. He developed various laser eye treatments.

Next is Dr Amar Agarwal, the first to do cataract surgery through a 0.7mm incision. He is director of Dr Agarwal's Group of Eye Hospitals in India.

The journal also mentioned another Singapore doctor, Professor Wong Tien Yin. He is described as the most prolific author on diabetic macular edema, a major cause of vision loss in diabetics.

salma@sph.com.sg