SINGAPORE: The Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) on Friday (Aug 16) launched a new centre to tackle myopia.
Myopia rates in Singapore are among the highest in the world, with one in five children having the condition by the time they enter primary school. That will rise to seven in 10 children by the time those children reach 18 years old.
The new centre, based in Bedok, is Singapore's first.
“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," said Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Lam Pin Min at the centre’s opening.
He added that an over-reliance on specialist care to manage myopia "will not be sustainable" against the backdrop of myopia numbers, coupled with the increasing eye care needs of an ageing population.
As such, optometrists will play a larger role at SNEC’s Myopia Centre.
The one-stop hub, led mainly by optometrists, provides screening services and treatments for patients with myopia.
Treatments offered include Myopine, a type of eye drop used to slow myopia progression in children.
The centre expects to see up to 5,000 patients every year.
Apart from clinical services, the Myopia Centre will work with industry partners on myopia-related intervention and prevention research.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was also signed between SNEC and Singapore Polytechnic to groom more eye care professionals through clinical attachments and internships at the Myopia Centre.
The first batch of optometry students will begin their four-month stint in October.
"The students will benefit from the exposure to the myopic patients and how the optometrists and ophthalmologists manage myopia control and myopia progression,” said Mr Dylan Eng, course chairman of Singapore Polytechnic's Diploma in Optometry.
The SNEC also launched an illustrated picture book aimed at children between the ages of three and eight as part of outreach efforts on myopia prevention.
Co-authored by the centre's clinical directors, it encourages children to play outdoors rather than on electronic devices to reduce the chances of being shortsighted.
The book will be made available at primary schools and libraries, and can also be found at local bookstores.