Recently, I have noticed advertisements promising to cure various vision problems, such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness, difficulty in reading, lazy eye and misalignment, on social media and even on banners in heartland malls.
The ads feature treatments for children - costing between $2,000 and $7,000 - and promise to be "non-invasive".
Such ads can be found at the top of search engine results, and the companies may not have any registered eye health professionals like opticians, optometrists or ophthalmologists on their teams.
I am an optometrist and vision scientist, and have noticed that the promoted treatments are not evidence-based or recognised by the medical profession.
To make matters worse, the firms give unsafe advice to clients, telling them to stop wearing their glasses and stop using atropine eye drops, usually used to slow the progression of myopia in children.
As a result, several children suffered deterioration of their vision within six months of starting the unregulated therapy, as shown by hospital tests.
These children were also deprived of functional vision for the six months that they were not allowed to use their glasses.
Current regulation in the Optometrists and Opticians Act does not include clauses on unauthorised persons providing eye care advice, service, attendance or treatment for eye conditions.
There is also no clinical guideline from the Ministry of Health on the management of myopia.
Thus, unethical companies like these can continue to operate by getting around the regulations.
Moreover, the medical device used in the advertised treatments is not regulated by the Health Sciences Authority.
Without any medical knowledge, parents will easily fall prey to such ads, and children may suffer irreversible harm to their vision.
Perhaps it is time the regulations were updated to protect vulnerable groups like our children.