8 December 2014
Embargoed till release on 8 Dec 2014, 2pm

Media Release By:
Singapore Eye Research Institute & Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution

Cutting Edge Technologies Meet Traditional Chinese Medicine

Dry eye is a major, common medical condition with significant health and economic burden in Singapore and worldwide. It is a holistic problem affected by living habits, nutrition and underlying systemic disease, inducing a significant decrease in quality-of-life. The hallmark of this disease is raised tear osmolarity and inflammation. There is no definitive cure for this condition, as treatment in the form of lubricants is only symptomatic and treatment with cyclosporine eyedrops is expensive and may not be well tolerated.

Following the rise in international interest in complementary medicine, randomized-controlled studies in dry eye using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been published, with mixed results. However, the major limitation of these studies is the lack of objective assessment for inflammation.

Singapore Eye Research Institute will collaborate with Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution, an academically-trained Singapore TCM physician who has conducted dry eye trials, and synergistically exploit the existing state-of-the-art dry eye monitoring technologies available at SERI. This proposal is cost-effective, building on previous government grants and expertise to provide definitive scientific evidence on the efficacy and safety of TCM in dry eye. SERI has an international reputation for interventional studies, and the principal investigator (PI) has a good academic relationship with the above TCM physician. We propose to screen, recruit and treat 150 patients with a herbal preparation and acupuncture, and evaluate over 4 weeks in a randomized-controlled study. These patients (age 40-85 years) must display the following symptoms: eye irritation, burning, or watering.

Tests to be performed will include tear imaging and osmolarity, as well as protein and cytokine assays. Interested members of public may contact:
Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution at Tel: 6253 8152,      
9.00am–5.00pm, Mondays–Fridays      

The study is funded by the Ministry of Health. Singapore is uniquely positioned at the crossroads of the East and the West to take the lead in this field. Given that there is an increasing patient interest in holistic care in Singapore and the rise of scientifically trained TCM practitioners, a study like this one is very timely.

Assoc Prof Louis Tong
Principal Investigator for this Study
Head, Ocular Surface Research Group, Singapore Eye Research Institute
Senior Consultant Ophthalmologist, Cornea Department
Singapore National Eye Centre

Mr Liew Siaw Foo
Chairman, Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution (SCHMI)

Mr Koh Boon Khai
Chief Operating Officer, SCHMI

Dr Pat Lim
Head, Ophthalmology Dept., SCHMI

Ms Hoe Moi Chen
Physician,Ophthalmology Dept., SCHMI

Mr David Loo
Publicity & Event Executive, SCHMI