June 30, 2020, Osaka, Japan and Singapore — Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, Santen) and Plano Pte. Ltd (hereinafter, Plano) today announced a strategic alliance to tackle the global burden of myopia. Under this strategic alliance, Plano has secured an investment from Santen. Santen, through Plano, will initiate to tackle the burden of myopia using both a holistic approach and innovative technological solutions.

Santen, as a leading company in the field of ophthalmology, has cultivated expertise and capabilities specializing in ophthalmology based on a thorough customer orientation, including patients and healthcare professionals. In recent years, we have focused our attention on medical devices and digital technologies, and have continued to take on the challenge of contributing to the health of the eyes of people around the world through activities that meet the needs of customers in each region, as well as offering products and solutions that cover a wide range of disease fields.

Plano is an eye health tech company launched in 2017, founded by Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani. It is the first spin-off from the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) – Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) Ophthalmic Technologies Incubator Programme, dedicated to accelerating highly promising ophthalmic R&D projects towards commercialisation and medical deployment. The key products in the company’s ecosystem include the plano application and the online optometry booking system, Plano Eyecheck. The science-based plano application has been adopted by more than 250,000 households. In less than 3 years, Plano is considered as one of the world leaders in raising awareness and educating the public on the prevention, detection and risk factors of myopia.

Myopia is one of the most common health problems in the world, affecting an estimated 2 billion people, or about 28% of the world’s population. The number of people with myopia is expected to increase to 5 billion by the year 2050, which will be half of the world’s population1. Myopia affects people of every age, gender and race in every country. However, some countries have been affected more than others. Developed countries in East and Southeast Asia have the highest rates of myopia in the world. As many as 80-90% of teenagers and young adults in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and 96.5% of 19-year-old men in South Korea have myopia2. Just 60 years ago, only 10-20% of people in China had myopia3. Myopia has also become more common in Europe, and the United States where it now affects up to 40% of people4. Treating myopia costs Asian economies US$328 billion every year5, with Singapore alone spending US$755 million annually6.

Shigeo Taniuchi, President and CEO of Santen said “I am pleased to have a strategic alliance with Plano.  Santen will, through Plano, by this strategic alliance, initiate in Singapore to raise awareness and support prevention and management of myopia in everyday life, as well as to expand the novel solutions to the region and beyond. With a recognition of rapid increase of myopia as a social issue, as a global leader in ophthalmology, Santen will work closely with Plano to resolve social issues related to myopia and to improve QOL of the patients around the world.”

“This funding and strategic alliance with Santen will play an instrumental role in growing Plano’s user engagement, strengthen its big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, and drive its international expansion plans. The strategic alliance with Santen, who recognize myopia as a material issue, is very important as we collectively embark on our future objectives to advance Plano’s products and services, expand its myopia-centered ecosystem into the region and introduce new and people-centered products for the management of myopia. We are eager to get to work with the excellent team at Santen,” said Plano’s Managing Director Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani. “To align with Santen, who have shown leadership in ophthalmic care for over 130 years, is a humbling one. This alliance will provide the team at Plano with the added confidence, mentorship, and new opportunities to more effectively deliver its pioneering services in Singapore and the region. I am honored to be part of this journey and believe that this alliance will take Plano to even greater heights.”

Professor Wong Tien Yin, Medical Director of the Singapore National Eye Centre said, “Myopia is a major public health problem in Asia and globally. We need to continue to raise awareness of the impact of the disease, its major risk factors and how we can slow its progression to prevent visual impairment. In children, a combination of increasing opportunities for outdoor activities and reducing excessive near-work activities are important strategies. We are very happy to see this strategic alliance being created between Plano, a startup company which was created within SERI/SNEC’s incubator framework and Santen, a leading ophthalmic company with whom we have been working for several years on a broad strategic research and development collaboration. Plano’s growth is a testament to the ability of Singapore’s clinical centers to create internationally competitive and successful startups.”

Plano users can look forward to a series of exciting announcements which include a new app interface for both parents and children, improved product functionality, and for the first time in the world, an AI-driven calculator for the development, progression and stabilization of myopia in children and teenagers.

1. Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, Jong M, Naidoo KS, Sankaridurg P, et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(5):1036-42.

2. Dolin E. The myopia boom. Nature. 2015;519(7543):276-8.

3. Morgan IG, French AN, Ashby RS, Guo X, Ding X, He M, et al. The epidemics of myopia: Aetiology and prevention. Progress in Retinal & Eye Research. 2017.

4. Vitale S, Sperduto RD, Ferris FL, 3rd. Increased prevalence of myopia in the United States between 1971- 1972 and 1999-2004. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127(12):1632-9.

5. World Health Organization. The impact of myopia and high myopia: Report of the Joint World Health Organization – Brien Holden Vision Institute Global Scientific Meeting on Myopia. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia: 2015.

6. Zheng YF, Pan CW, Chay J, Wong TY, Finkelstein E, Saw SM. The economic cost of myopia in adults aged over 40 years in Singapore. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2013;54(12):7532-7.

About Santen

As a specialized company dedicated to ophthalmology, Santen carries out research, development, marketing, and sales of pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter products, and medical devices. Santen is the market leader for prescription ophthalmic pharmaceuticals in Japan and its products now reach patients in over 60 countries. With scientific knowledge and organizational capabilities nurtured over a nearly 130-year history, Santen provides products and services to contribute to the well-being of patients, their loved ones and consequently to society. For more information, please visit Santen’s website (www.santen.com).

About Plano

Plano was developed with a clear purpose; to save sight and empower lives. With a culture of disruptive thinking grounded in real scientific research, Plano promotes the use of innovative technology to provide a solution to help mitigate the public health, societal and economic issues posed by excessive device usage. Plano’s founding Managing Director, Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani, has dedicated his life to the study and research of myopia, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School and an Honorary Principal Investigator at the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA). www.plano.co

Santen Forward-looking Statements

Information provided in this press release contains forward-looking statements. The achievement of these forecasts is subject to risk and uncertainty from various sources. Therefore, please note that the actual results may differ significantly from the forecasts. Business performance and financial conditions are subject to the effects of changes in regulations made by the governments of Japan and other nations concerning medical insurance, drug pricing and other systems, and to fluctuations in market variables such as interest rates and foreign exchange rates.

Contact

Akiko Yoshikawa, Corporate Communications Group, Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

E-mail: ir@santen.com   Tel. : +81-6-4802-9360

Thanveer Ali, Head of Communications, Plano Pte. Ltd

E-mail: media@plano.co   Tel. : +65-9008-2972

June 30, 2020, Osaka, Japan and Singapore — Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (hereinafter, Santen) and Plano Pte. Ltd (hereinafter, Plano) today announced a strategic alliance to tackle the global burden of myopia. Under this strategic alliance, Plano has secured an investment from Santen. Santen, through Plano, will initiate to tackle the burden of myopia using both a holistic approach and innovative technological solutions.

Santen, as a leading company in the field of ophthalmology, has cultivated expertise and capabilities specializing in ophthalmology based on a thorough customer orientation, including patients and healthcare professionals. In recent years, we have focused our attention on medical devices and digital technologies, and have continued to take on the challenge of contributing to the health of the eyes of people around the world through activities that meet the needs of customers in each region, as well as offering products and solutions that cover a wide range of disease fields.

Plano is an eye health tech company launched in 2017, founded by Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani. It is the first spin-off from the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) – Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) Ophthalmic Technologies Incubator Programme, dedicated to accelerating highly promising ophthalmic R&D projects towards commercialisation and medical deployment. The key products in the company’s ecosystem include the plano application and the online optometry booking system, Plano Eyecheck. The science-based plano application has been adopted by more than 250,000 households. In less than 3 years, Plano is considered as one of the world leaders in raising awareness and educating the public on the prevention, detection and risk factors of myopia.

Myopia is one of the most common health problems in the world, affecting an estimated 2 billion people, or about 28% of the world’s population. The number of people with myopia is expected to increase to 5 billion by the year 2050, which will be half of the world’s population1. Myopia affects people of every age, gender and race in every country. However, some countries have been affected more than others. Developed countries in East and Southeast Asia have the highest rates of myopia in the world. As many as 80-90% of teenagers and young adults in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and 96.5% of 19-year-old men in South Korea have myopia2. Just 60 years ago, only 10-20% of people in China had myopia3. Myopia has also become more common in Europe, and the United States where it now affects up to 40% of people4. Treating myopia costs Asian economies US$328 billion every year5, with Singapore alone spending US$755 million annually6.

Shigeo Taniuchi, President and CEO of Santen said “I am pleased to have a strategic alliance with Plano.  Santen will, through Plano, by this strategic alliance, initiate in Singapore to raise awareness and support prevention and management of myopia in everyday life, as well as to expand the novel solutions to the region and beyond. With a recognition of rapid increase of myopia as a social issue, as a global leader in ophthalmology, Santen will work closely with Plano to resolve social issues related to myopia and to improve QOL of the patients around the world.”

“This funding and strategic alliance with Santen will play an instrumental role in growing Plano’s user engagement, strengthen its big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, and drive its international expansion plans. The strategic alliance with Santen, who recognize myopia as a material issue, is very important as we collectively embark on our future objectives to advance Plano’s products and services, expand its myopia-centered ecosystem into the region and introduce new and people-centered products for the management of myopia. We are eager to get to work with the excellent team at Santen,” said Plano’s Managing Director Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani. “To align with Santen, who have shown leadership in ophthalmic care for over 130 years, is a humbling one. This alliance will provide the team at Plano with the added confidence, mentorship, and new opportunities to more effectively deliver its pioneering services in Singapore and the region. I am honored to be part of this journey and believe that this alliance will take Plano to even greater heights.”

Professor Wong Tien Yin, Medical Director of the Singapore National Eye Centre said, “Myopia is a major public health problem in Asia and globally. We need to continue to raise awareness of the impact of the disease, its major risk factors and how we can slow its progression to prevent visual impairment. In children, a combination of increasing opportunities for outdoor activities and reducing excessive near-work activities are important strategies. We are very happy to see this strategic alliance being created between Plano, a startup company which was created within SERI/SNEC’s incubator framework and Santen, a leading ophthalmic company with whom we have been working for several years on a broad strategic research and development collaboration. Plano’s growth is a testament to the ability of Singapore’s clinical centers to create internationally competitive and successful startups.”

Plano users can look forward to a series of exciting announcements which include a new app interface for both parents and children, improved product functionality, and for the first time in the world, an AI-driven calculator for the development, progression and stabilization of myopia in children and teenagers.

1. Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, Jong M, Naidoo KS, Sankaridurg P, et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(5):1036-42.

2. Dolin E. The myopia boom. Nature. 2015;519(7543):276-8.

3. Morgan IG, French AN, Ashby RS, Guo X, Ding X, He M, et al. The epidemics of myopia: Aetiology and prevention. Progress in Retinal & Eye Research. 2017.

4. Vitale S, Sperduto RD, Ferris FL, 3rd. Increased prevalence of myopia in the United States between 1971- 1972 and 1999-2004. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127(12):1632-9.

5. World Health Organization. The impact of myopia and high myopia: Report of the Joint World Health Organization – Brien Holden Vision Institute Global Scientific Meeting on Myopia. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia: 2015.

6. Zheng YF, Pan CW, Chay J, Wong TY, Finkelstein E, Saw SM. The economic cost of myopia in adults aged over 40 years in Singapore. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2013;54(12):7532-7.

About Santen

As a specialized company dedicated to ophthalmology, Santen carries out research, development, marketing, and sales of pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter products, and medical devices. Santen is the market leader for prescription ophthalmic pharmaceuticals in Japan and its products now reach patients in over 60 countries. With scientific knowledge and organizational capabilities nurtured over a nearly 130-year history, Santen provides products and services to contribute to the well-being of patients, their loved ones and consequently to society. For more information, please visit Santen’s website (www.santen.com).

About Plano

Plano was developed with a clear purpose; to save sight and empower lives. With a culture of disruptive thinking grounded in real scientific research, Plano promotes the use of innovative technology to provide a solution to help mitigate the public health, societal and economic issues posed by excessive device usage. Plano’s founding Managing Director, Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani, has dedicated his life to the study and research of myopia, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School and an Honorary Principal Investigator at the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA). www.plano.co

Santen Forward-looking Statements

Information provided in this press release contains forward-looking statements. The achievement of these forecasts is subject to risk and uncertainty from various sources. Therefore, please note that the actual results may differ significantly from the forecasts. Business performance and financial conditions are subject to the effects of changes in regulations made by the governments of Japan and other nations concerning medical insurance, drug pricing and other systems, and to fluctuations in market variables such as interest rates and foreign exchange rates.

Contact

Akiko Yoshikawa, Corporate Communications Group, Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

E-mail: ir@santen.com   Tel. : +81-6-4802-9360

Thanveer Ali, Head of Communications, Plano Pte. Ltd

E-mail: media@plano.co   Tel. : +65-9008-2972

The initiative, which comes up to over S$5 million, strives to help parents manage their children’s screen time and internet safety in these trying times.

Local health tech company, Plano Pte Ltd today announced that all Singaporean families will be given the annual membership of its science-based parental management eye health application, plano for free.

In an interview on CNA938’s Tech Talk segment, Plano’s Founding Managing Director Associate Professor Mohamed Dirani said that with the full suite of parental control features made available to parents for free, Plano hopes to help “all Singaporean families deal with issues of excessive device use,” especially during the circuit breaker period.

plano is a science-based parental management app that helps parents manage their children’s eye health and myopia and ensures safe mobile device use.

Supported by the Singapore Government and with affiliations to Singapore National Eye Centre and Singapore Eye Research Institute, plano has become an indispensable parenting tool for more than 500,000 parents across the globe.

All parents in Singapore who download and register on plano from 4 May ’20 to 1 June ’20 will be eligible for the promotion. Additionally, existing plano users on the free and monthly subscription plans will be automatically upgraded to the annual plan with effect from 4 May ‘20.

The full suite of premium features include digital eye health and progress reports, app blocking and remote locking functions, among others. Parents can access Plano’s website for more information on the app and the promotion.

The company has made various efforts to curb the collateral health implications that may arise as a result of increased screen time and sedentary behaviour during the stay-home notice in Singapore.

Last month, Plano launched the ‘Stay Home Adventures’ campaign to deliver copies of its bestselling children’s book series, The Plano Adventures to families nation-wide. It partnered with local charities and social service agencies, including the Singapore Children’s Society and the Singapore Muslim Women’s Association (PPIS) to reach underprivileged children with its books. Through the campaign, Plano is working with parents who find it challenging to engage their children in device-free activities at home to provide more options for such activities.

Plano is also now onboarding optometrists onto the Plano Eyecheck platform free of charge until 1 June ’20. Plano Eyecheck is an easy-to-use online platform that connects people to their nearest optometrist and allows them to locate, book and manage appointments for a variety of eye care services, including comprehensive eye check-ups and myopia control consultations.

“Visits to optical shops are now by appointment-only. Effectively, with the Plano Eyecheck platform, we want to help everyone in Singapore to protect their eye health, even after the pandemic. We urge everyone to make an appointment through the platform after the restrictions have been lifted.”

“To our local optometrists, we want to thank you for your contributions to the industry. This initiative is our way of showing that as a company, we stand with you in these unprecedented times,” said Dr Dirani.

Dr Dirani said that these efforts are initial steps Plano will be taking to reach out to families in Singapore in this period of time.

“COVID-19 knows no geographical or social boundaries. Avoiding the collateral health damage that comes with excessive screen time during this period is extremely important. We pledge to commit our time and resources towards helping parents ensure that their children remain safe and healthy in these testing times.”

Children’s neurological development is influenced by what they do and do not experience. Early experiences and the environments in which they occur can alter gene expression and affect long-term neural development. Today, discretionary screen time (DST), often involving multiple devices, is the single main experience and environment of children. Various screen activities are reported to induce structural and functional brain plasticity in adults. However, childhood is a time of significantly greater changes in brain anatomical structure and connectivity. Digital natives exhibit a higher prevalence of screen-related ‘addictive’ behaviours that reflect impaired neurological reward-processing and impulse-control mechanisms. Associations are emerging between screen dependency disorders (SDD) such as Internet Addiction Disorder and specific neurogenetic polymorphisms, abnormal neural tissue and neural function. 

The use of digital devices is ubiquitous in this day and age. SNEC reports on the link between digital devices and CVS (Computer Vision Syndrome). The report highlights the symptoms of CVS, ranging from headaches to blurred vision.

The report offers tips on the prevention of CVS. The symptoms and tips to prevent CVS are explored in further detail in this report.

At the International Symposium on Optometry and Vision Science, the data report on Chinese Teenager’s Myopia-Related Visual Behaviors was released, revealing the four major reasons for myopia in children and teenagers in China. It was based on a sample size of 22,911 Chinese students aged 6 to 17 years old.

The report calls on both children and teenagers to cultivate 5 eye care habits:

  1. A minimum of 33cm of eye-to-screen distance
  2. A maximum of 3 hours of device use daily
  3. A minimum of 1 hour outdoors
  4. Positioning the device slightly lower than eye level
  5. A recommended amount of light of 200 lux and above 

These five key recommendations are explored in further detail in this report. It includes statistics of children and teenagers who face myopia.

Understanding the role of media in young people’s lives is essential for those concerned about promoting the healthy development of children and adolescents, including parents, pediatricians, policymakers, children’s advocates, educators, and public health groups.

It is the purpose of this study to foster that understanding by providing data about young people’s media use: which media they use, which they own, how much time they spend with each medium, which activities they engage in, how often they multitask, and how they differ from one another in the patterns of their media use.

Today’s children grow up immersed in digital media, which has both positive and negative effects on healthy development. The nation’s largest group of pediatricians provides new set of recommendations and resources, including an interactive media use planning tool, to help families balance digital and real life from birth to adulthood.

Recognizing the ubiquitous role of media in children’s lives, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is releasing new policy recommendations and resources to help families maintain a healthy media diet.  To support these recommendations, the AAP is publishing an interactive, online tool so families can create a personalized Family Media Use Plan.

Discretionary screen time (ST) is now the main waking activity of children: a lifestyle factor as relevant to health as nutrition and physical activity. High ST is increasingly considered an independent risk factor, often exhibiting a dose–response relationship with cardiometabolic disease, unfavourable child development outcomes, and adult morbidity and mortality, ultimately placing greater pressure on primary care services.

The US Department of Health has issued ‘recommended limits for screen time’ as one of its national ‘health improvement priorities’ and a key ‘disease prevention objective’. Public Health England recently reported their concern over:

‘Increased screen time … evidence suggests a “dose-response” relationship, where each additional hour of viewing increases the likelihood of experiencing socio-emotional problems’.

  • Keep your children’s screen time in check, experts suggest.
  • Watching television and playing online games causes myopia in children.