A NEW network for better research on eye diseases was launched yesterday.

Called the Singapore Ophthalmology Research Collaborative Network (Soprano), the network brings together ophthalmologists from institutions such as the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI), the Singapore National Eye Centre and all major public hospitals with an eye department.

SERI already has research collaborations on glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy with some hospitals in Singapore, but the new network could allow it to expand these projects.

“We can tap a wider pool of experts and draw on a larger patient pool to conduct research,” said Professor Aung Tin, executive director of SERI, which leads the network. “This could mean faster and more applicable research to treat eye diseases.”

He also hopes to step up research on myopia, a pressing condition among Singapore’s young.

“Better research is also important in maintaining Singapore’s standing in the field of ophthalmology. We are highly regarded in the field,” he said at a ceremony where the institutions signed a memorandum of understanding for the network. The event was held at SERI’s new site at the Academia Building, near Singapore General Hospital.

Previously, SERI was split across six different sites. Since August, these have been consolidated at the Academia Building.

“This would increase research capability and ease of communications within the institute,” Prof Aung said. “Our new home is also very close to the National Eye Centre, which is convenient for research.”