The new fund will support efforts to boost the fight against infectious diseases, and nurture present and further generations of ophthalmologists.
The Heroes Fund, set up by the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) in May 2020, has successfully met its fundraising target of $1 million in June 2021 after a year-long campaign.
The Heroes Fund will support initiatives to help uncover new ways to detect, diagnose and prevent the spread of infectious diseases through the eye. One potential diagnostic tool being studied is human tear testing which has been effective in detecting viruses such as SARS and ZIKA. This research will advance our understanding of the eye’s immune defenses and viral transmission patterns in future outbreaks.
COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption and development of new patient care models and the Fund will support efforts to leverage the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual technology for patient care. For example, SNEC’s video consultation programme, introduced during the pandemic, delivers eye care services to patients, while minimising their exposure to the virus. The use of AI and tele-virtual technology continues to show promise in optimising clinic resources and could be employed in the long run, beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advanced AI can also be used for better disease screening. In 2020, the Fund supported the development of a mobile app called Alleye. Designed for retina patients, the app enables the monitoring of visual distortion on a mobile device, with digitised patient-reported outcome features. A pilot trial study is currently being conducted with retina patients who had their appointments rescheduled because of the “Circuit Breaker” period last year.
The Heroes Fund will also fund the development of e-learning programmes for healthcare workers in safe, contagion-free environments. It will provide our healthcare workforce with quality training and tools to leverage innovations and develop new models of care in the field of Ophthalmology.
The Heroes Fund was able to achieve its fundraising target through the support of many contributors, one of whom is SNEC’s Director of Philanthropy, Ms Lim Mein Chee. She explains why she led by example in giving towards the fund, “I am doing my part as a fellow citizen of our country and a healthcare worker, to help support my fellow colleagues in building up the healthcare defence against the fight against pandemics like the one we are in now.”
The campaign for The Heroes Fund has ended, but there are many ways you can contribute to advance treatment and cure for blinding eye diseases and to improve the quality of life for those living with the condition. Find out more at https://www.snec.com.sg/giving