Wednesday, June 16

Strategic partnership in Singapore looks set to address the worsening myopia situation in Asia



Thomson X (TX), a wholly-owned subsidiary of SGX Mainboard-listed Thomson Medical Group Limited, is a platform which aims to bolster the current healthcare landscape by connecting healthcare technological start-ups with their existing healthcare expertise and network. They have established a partnership with Plano, seeking to address the increasing myopia rate around the world through the use of cutting-edge technological solutions. This will help them to scale up more rapidly and maximize their outreach which in turn fuels more sustainable growth. Plano’s vision is to raise awareness about myopia and help manage it through education and the use of innovative technological systems or Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Through this partnership, patients at Thomson Pediatric Clinic and Thomson Kids in Singapore as well as Thomson Eye Centre in Malaysia will be granted access to Plano’s innovative eye-care solutions as well as Thomson’s existing healthcare services. Plano is pitching this deal as a means to boost its market potential through TX’s global partner, the Global Esports Federation, by delivering customized eye care services to Esports athletes/gamers who have been exposed to electronic devices for prolonged periods.  TX will also be granted an option to subscribe for an equity stake in Plano which can be exercised in three tranches over a six-year period based on certain conditions. If all three tranches are exercised, TX will hold a minority stake in Plano, allowing TX to participate in Plano’s future growth.

WHY IT MATTERS
Although myopia might not manifest itself as a life-threatening ailment, a child with myopia has an increased risk of developing vision-threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, or retinal detachment in the future. While prescription glasses and contact lens are the orthodox method of vision correction for myopia, the way in which these lenses focus light actually increases the axial length of the eye and causes myopia to worsen. Through myopia management programs, the level of myopia within children can be greatly inhibited which reduces the child’s likelihood of developing vision-threatening eye diseases in the future.

A growing number of healthcare technology companies are now looking to address this issue as well. TX and Plano are pitching this too as a way to raise awareness about myopia and the steps to actively prevent it.

THE LARGER TREND
Myopia has been slowly but steadily rising to become one of the largest public health issues globally.  Estimates of about 27% of the global population are faced with myopia and this situation is projected to exacerbate further and double by 2050. The prevalence of myopia is much higher in developed economies in East Asia where countries like China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore have reported approximately 50% of their population suffering from myopia. The costs of managing myopia are also colossal, with estimated direct annual costs estimated at US$328 billion/annum.



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