• The SNEC Global Ophthalmology Unit is the first in Southeast Asia to be appointed as a WHO Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Blindness and Vision Impairment.
  • The collaboration covers three key areas: Eye care services, evidence-based best practices, and research.

    Singapore, 20 January 2024 – The Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) announced today that its Global Ophthalmology (GO) unit has been designated as the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Blindness and Vision Impairment, marking the first Centre of its kind in Southeast Asia. As part of the collaboration, SNEC GO will support in building capacity of the eye care workforce in Southeast Asia and provide safe and accessible ophthalmic and optometry services. It will also share evidence-based best practices with eye care counterparts in the region and build the region's capacity to conduct research on blinding eye diseases (please refer to Annex A for details of the terms of reference). The designation will be for a duration of four years as part of the WHO's strategic development efforts to improve health care in the region.

    The announcement was made at the Singapore Eye Research Institute's (SERI) and the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) 3rd International Myopia Summit and held in conjunction with the 37th Singapore-Malaysia Joint Meeting in Ophthalmology. The  Meeting is organised by the Singapore Society of Ophthalmology (SSO), which marked its 60th anniversary in 2023. Gracing the event's opening ceremony was Minister for Foreign Affairs and former SNEC Medical Director Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. The meeting is attended by over 600 delegates from around 39 countries. The SSO and the Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology take turns organising the annual meeting each alternating year.

    WHO CCs are selected based on the past contributions to the objectives of the WHO. SNEC and SERI have been working with the WHO for various activities such as providing expert guidance in WHO think tank workgroups, reviewing WHO policy and guides related to evidence-based eye care related reports, developing the diabetic retinopathy management guide, and organising the International Myopia Summit, WPRO regional meeting to launch WHO Eye Tools, pilot validation centre for the WHO Eye Care Competency Framework. As leading regional and international eye institutions, SNEC and SERI are also well placed to serve the Asia Pacific region to improve eye care delivery, especially to the regional areas of need.

    "SNEC is honoured to be designated as the first WHO Collaborating Centre for the Prevention of Blindness and Vision Impairment in the region. This is a testament to the strengths of our clinicians and faculty, who have dedicated their lives to improving eye care and furthering research in eye health, in particular myopia, which affects the large majority of Singaporeans. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with our counterparts from the WHO and hope that our contributions will positively impact the lives of many in the region who are in need of eye care," said Professor Aung Tin, Chief Executive Officer, SNEC.

    Singapore Society of Ophthalmology 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee

    As one of the academic societies affiliated to the Singapore Medical Association, the SSO was established to promote interest and study in ophthalmology and to liaise with similar bodies in other countries. Members comprise ophthalmologists from both public hospital eye departments and from private practice.

    Over the years, the SSO has hosted as well as participated in many regional and world-wide ophthalmic congresses. In its efforts to ensure that local ophthalmologists are kept abreast of recent developments in their field, the Society continues to hold annual scientific meetings and continuing education sessions as well as sponsor lectures by world authorities on ophthalmology for its members. These include the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress in Singapore in 2017, where close to 5,000 international delegates attended, and the upcoming Asia-Pacific Vitreo-retinal Society Congress in November, where about 1,500 delegates are expected, both with the College of Ophthalmologists, Academy of Medicine Singapore.

    The SSO also annually organises numerous eye screening and outreach programmes, both locally and in the region, serving the underprivileged. It partnered with the People's Association and Singapore National Eye Centre to offer free cataract surgery to residents of several districts as part of the SPECtacular programme in 2017.   

    "The Singapore-Malaysia Joint Meeting in Ophthalmology is a great opportunity for all eye care professionals from both sides of the causeway as well as around the globe to gather and discuss the challenges, advances, and opportunities in ophthalmology. This year's Meeting, themed "Transforming Paradigms in Ophthalmology" is extra special for Singapore as the SSO just celebrated its diamond jubilee last year. I believe that the various keynote lectures, symposiums, and workshops will offer new insights to all participants, and that we can inspire and glean from one another to bring ophthalmology and eye care to greater heights for patients," said Associate Professor Marcus Ang, President, Singapore Society of Ophthalmology.