New centre brings myopia care closer to community

An optometrist at the Bedok North myopia centre carrying out an eye test on a child from PCF Sparkletots yesterday. The clinic, which opened yesterday, will provide comprehensive care, especially for patients suffering from high myopia, and at the sa
An optometrist at the Bedok North myopia centre carrying out an eye test on a child from PCF Sparkletots yesterday. The clinic, which opened yesterday, will provide comprehensive care, especially for patients suffering from high myopia, and at the same time carry out research.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A new myopia centre in Bedok North aims to boost the way Singapore tackles the growing problem by bringing specialist care closer to communities.

Run by doctors from the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), the clinic, which opened yesterday, will provide comprehensive care, especially for patients suffering from high myopia, and at the same time carry out research.

Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min said there is a need for more such centres in the heartland, given that Singapore has one of the highest rates of myopia in the world - with close to nine in 10 citizens above the age of 18 expected to suffer from the condition by 2050.

Already, "65 per cent of our children tend to develop myopia by Primary 6", he said, with the number growing to 83 per cent by the time they become young adults.

Singapore is often labelled as the "myopia capital of the world", said Dr Lam, adding that in three decades, it is projected that 80 per cent to 90 per cent of all Singaporean adults will be myopic, with as many as a quarter of them suffering from high myopia. Couple that with the "increasing eye care needs of our ageing population", it has become necessary to explore new models of care.

"Over-reliance on specialist care to manage myopia will not be sustainable," Dr Lam said.

Instead, the centre's optometrists will play more of a role in assessing those with myopia, instead of relying on specialists.

  • 65%

    Percentage of children with the tendency to develop myopia by Primary 6, according to Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min.

    80-90%

    Projected percentage of Singaporean adults who will be myopic, in three decades.

Since the centre's soft launch in June, its optometrists have seen around 600 patients. The numbers are expected to grow to 1,000 to 2,000 patients every three months.

Dr Wong Tien Yin, medical director of the SNEC, said: "Here, our optometrists take the lead with managing patient care, supervised by the specialists, so specialists do not need to see every patient. This centre runs on quite an efficient model, which will allow us to see a larger number of people."

The SNEC is working with Singapore Polytechnic to provide its students with clinical attachments and internships at the myopia centre.

"Working with the SNEC myopia centre allows our Diploma in Optometry students to further experience first-hand the challenges in managing myopia and other eye disorders within the community," said Dr Adrian Yeo Chao Chuang, director of the School of Chemical and Life Sciences at the polytechnic.

 
 

The SNEC also launched an illustrated picture book on good vision care and habits for parents and children yesterday.

Titled Amanda The Panda: Outdoor Play Keeps Myopia Away and co-authored by the clinical directors of the centre, it will be made available at primary schools and libraries, and can also be bought at local bookstores for $12.90.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2019, with the headline 'New centre brings myopia care closer to community'. Print Edition | Subscribe