For Immediate Release

Singapore, 22 September 2016 – Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. In Singapore, approximately three per cent of people over the age of 50 years have glaucoma, increasing to 10 to 12 per cent for those over the age of 70 years.

Elevated eye pressure or intraocular pressure (IOP) is the main risk factor for glaucoma. The most widely-used treatment for glaucoma is daily eye-drops to lower IOP. Adherence to eye-drops is estimated to be as low as 40-50% among glaucoma patients in Singapore and worldwide. There are several potential barriers to adherence, including patient memory, difficulty with eye drop instillation or coping with the side effects.

In response to these issues with topical glaucoma medications, new slow release formulations for glaucoma treatment are being developed. For example, the Bimatoprost sustained-release (SR) formulation (Allergan Inc.) is a formulation consisting of an established approved drug, Bimatoprost without preservatives in a biodegradable implant which is preloaded in an applicator for administration. The biodegradable implant is being tested for reduction of elevated Intra-Ocular Pressure (IOP) to bring relief to glaucoma patients.

A two year study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Bimatoprost SR implant has commenced at Singapore National Eye Centre/Singapore Research Eye Institute (SERI), National University Hospital, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Changi General Hospital. The Bimatoprost SR is delivered into the front of the eye via an injection and is designed to deliver a rapid and sustained reduction in intraocular pressure (IOP) over the next three or four months.

This is the latest in a series of worldwide studies which are evaluating the use of this formulation for drug delivery in the future. Eligible patients enrolled in the study receive regular free tests and close monitoring by glaucoma specialists throughout the duration of the trial.  The Principal Investigator of the study at SNEC/SERI is Professor Tin Aung, Senior Consultant and Head, Glaucoma Dept, SNEC and Executive Director of the Singapore Eye Research Institute.

“The Bimatoprost SR is designed to deliver a rapid and sustained reduction in intraocular pressure (IOP) over the next three or four months thereby reducing the need for daily eye drops which has been the bane of patients suffering from glaucoma,” said Principal Investigator, Prof Aung Tin who is also Executive Director for the Singapore Eye Research Institute and Head of the Glaucoma Department in Singapore National Eye Centre. “This study is just one of such initiatives by SNEC and SERI, looking into leading more advanced and cost-effective ophthalmic care for our patients.”

About Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC)

Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) was incorporated in 1989 and commenced operations in 1990. It is the designated national centre within the public sector healthcare network, and spearheads and coordinates the provision of specialised ophthalmological services with emphasis on quality education and research.

Since its opening in 1990, SNEC has achieved rapid growth and currently manages an annual workload of 300,000 outpatient visits, 35,000 major eye surgeries and laser procedures.

Subspecialties in Cataract, Corneal and External Eye Disease, General Cataract and Comprehensive Ophthalmology,  Glaucoma, Neuro-Ophthalmology, Oculoplastic, Paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, Refractive Surgery, Ocular Inflammation and Immunology, Medical Retina and Surgical Retina have been established to provide a full range of eye treatment from comprehensive to tertiary levels for the entire spectrum of eye conditions.

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Mr Ravi Chandran
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Singapore National Eye Centre
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