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Tackling the Global Myopia Epidemic

Myopia is one of the world’s biggest public health challenges, affecting an estimated 2.6 billion people or about one-third of the global population. By 20501, the number of individuals with myopia is expected to increase to five billion people, or half the global population.

Today, developed economies in Asia such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea are already reporting population myopia rates of over 80%. All in all, the direct annual cost of managing this epidemic is estimated to be US$328 billion2.

A Growing Health Concern

With the continued growth in digital device usage, related vision disorders are becoming a public health concern.

In 2018, the Chinese government implemented game approval freezes for game publishers due to growing concerns of the rapid onset of myopia among children. This sudden move in the world’s largest gaming market — with over 457 million daily users — caused major game publishers like Tencent to lose 40% in market capitalisation within the year.

Moving forward, governments worldwide are expected to increase pressure on businesses in the gaming industry to promote responsible gaming, with a focus on health and wellness.

Recognising this, Thomson X, Thomson Medical Group’s wholly-owned subsidiary, started a series of deliberate partnerships to address this growing health concern.

Partnering to Combat Myopia

Thomson X’s first partnership, with the Global Esports Federation (GEF), will encourage responsible esports and promote optimised performance, wellness and balanced lifestyles in esports.

The GEF is an internationally recognised body supported by an extensive network of 67 member countries, the United Nations as well as some of the world’s largest game publishers such as Tencent, Riot Games, Smilegate, Supercell and Sega.

A second partnership, with Plano, will leverage innovative technological tools and artificial intelligence to provide accessible and better eye health solutions.

Plano is a leading healthtech company supported by the Singapore National Eye Centre, Singapore Eye Research Institute, National Health Innovation Centre, Enterprise Singapore and Japanese pharmaceutical giant Santen Co. Ltd.

Building on the strategic synergy of Thomson Medical Group’s expertise in children’s health and the networks and technologies of the two partnerships, Thomson X will be able to provide myopia management solutions to an addressable market of millions of patients.

Greater Impact Through Strategic Collaborations

Kiat Lim, Director of Thomson X, said, “Thomson X will continue to identify innovative partners that will help us stay ahead of the curve in medical technology adoption and demonstrate synergy with the Group’s core business. For example, as the Global Esports Federation’s global partner, Thomson X can now help millions of esports athletes benefit from our strategic networks.”

He added, “The strategic partnership with Plano further aligns us with one of the world leaders in myopia management, giving the Group access to the fast-growing MedTech ecosystem, and supports our broader strategy to deliver high-growth opportunities to our shareholders in the years to come. Together, we are excited to tackle the growing burden of myopia, especially in Asia, and bring clearer vision to our partners and patients.”

Moving forward, Thomson X will continue to focus on enriching the current healthcare landscape through strategic collaborations, investments and partnerships — leveraging technology to enable the group’s growth.

The synergistic partnerships looking to tackle this global epidemic is just the first of more to come. Further leveraging on Thomson Medical Group’s core activities and top-tier partners, Thomson X will chart the Group’s technology roadmap and is primed to be the technology catalyst to help innovative health technology companies maximise their potential.

Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, Jong M, Naidoo KS, Sankaridurg P, Wong TY, Naduvilath TJ, Resnikoff S, Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050, Ophthalmology, May 2016 Volume 123, Issue 5, Pages 1036–1042.

Sharon Yu Lin Chua, Paul J. Foster, The Economic and Societal Impact of Myopia and High Myopia.

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