Singapore has one of the highest rates of myopia in the world. To help address this, internationally recognised Ophthalmologist Dr Claudine Pang launched Singapore’s first and only eye health Asia Retina mobile App, and the great news is its free for all.
According to Dr Claudine Pang, being alert to changes in vision is important in picking up eye diseases. Early detection and treatment can slow down or even reverse disease progression.
Singapore has one of the highest rates of myopia in the world, with approximately 60% of children becoming myopic by 12 years of age, and that number increases to 80% by the time they reach 18.
“Early detection is important in order to manage symptoms of myopia and in some cases cure it at an early age through eye drops, corrective lenses, and glasses,” says Dr Pang.
The other major health problem on the rise, which is contributing to poor eye health in Singapore is diabetes, which if left untreated or uncontrolled, can severely impact a patient’s vision. According to research by the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI), up to 80% of people with long-standing diabetes will develop diabetic retinal disease. This disease may have no symptoms in the initial phase, although severe cases can lead to blindness. Therefore, early recognition and treatment of eye conditions especially in at-risk individuals can prevent blindness in their future.
To help patients manage their eye health, Dr Pang launched Singapore’s first eye health mobile app, named after her ophthalmology practice, Asia Retina.
The Asia Retina mobile app enables users to have access to free eye screening tests on their mobile device to use as an early tool indicator of serious eye issues. The current tests available include Visual Acuity (clarity of vision), Colour blindness test, Macular grid test and a Dry eye quiz. The mobile app also doubles as a method for Asia Retina patients to book appointments, get reminders for their eye drops and store their medical documents and records.
According to Dr Pang, if more people were aware of the risks associated with leaving their eye conditions untreated, use of the app may help reduce cases of preventable blindness in the country.
“There is a lack of awareness and education around eye health in Singapore. Many eye diseases and conditions show little or almost no symptoms until they are in a late stage, and this can cause serious vision problems. The Asia Retina mobile app was developed for this purpose so that people can detect many vision problems early and can seek help from a trained medical professional,” says Dr Pang.
Patients create a personal profile on the App which is regularly updated with their medical records and scans, as well as clinic staff updates to their eye drop schedule. According to Dr Pang, this feature is a crucial aspect for elderly or busy patients who require regular doses of eye drops but may forget due to scheduling commitments.
According to Dr Pang, missing doses can cause discomfort or in extreme cases slow down the recovery process for patients, which is why a daily reminder becomes so important.
“We believe this App adds value to the patient experience, as most patients often leave clinics empty-handed and there is some confusion about next steps as well as being able to understand the diagnosis and future treatment. By providing patients with a digital profile, patients are now able to access all their necessary eye health information or records. This further becomes handy for future visits, or even if they visit a different ophthalmologist, they will still have access to their latest medical records,” says Dr Pang.
For Dr Pang, the impetus behind the launch of the Asia Retina App is two-fold. One is to build on their already strong foundation of being a tech-centred practice. Dr Pang says her clinic uses the latest state-of-the-art equipment and is completely paperless; all patients files are recorded in a digital system. The second is based on her personal commitment of fostering a community-of-care.
“Regular testing is crucial, and adults should go for a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. In between visits, using the Asia Retina mobile app’s eye exams would be a good way to continuously track your eye health. We will be continuing to add new eye exams to the mobile app in the future and improve the overall user experience,” says Dr Pang.
After graduating with a Double Bachelor in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) with Distinction and Gold Medal in Medical Ethics from the National University of Singapore in 2004, Dr Pang was the first female in the world to receive the highly coveted William H. Ross Surgical Vitreoretinal Fellowship at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
As a leading Retinal Eye Surgeon world-wide, Dr Pang authors numerous peer-reviewed articles and was the first to describe novel clinical entities including lamellar hole epiretinal proliferation, pachychoroid neovasculopathy and ghost maculopathy. She has a special interest in Ophthalmic Retinal Imaging and has described novel techniques that improve imaging and diagnosis of vitreoretinal diseases.
Dr. Pang has more than 15 years of ophthalmology experience and has performed thousands of cataract and retinal surgeries making her one of the most experienced cataract surgeons in Singapore. In addition to cataract surgery, her main forte is in retinal detachment surgery, macular surgery, myopic diseases, age-related macular degeneration, polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy, central serous chorioretinopathy, inflammatory retinopathies and inherited retinal diseases.