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An app to tackle myopia

OT  finds out about technology developed in Singapore to help monitor and modify device use

13 Mar 2018 by Selina Powell

A Singapore start-up is harnessing the power of technology to try to ameliorate the impact of myopia.

Plano was developed as an incubator project through the Singapore National Eye Centre. Approximately, 60% of eight to 12-year-olds in Singapore are myopic.

The smartphone application helps parents to monitor the frequency and duration of their child’s device use. It also provides information about how children are holding the device.

A monthly one-page report lets parents know how good their child’s device behaviour is and also reminds them when their child is due for an optometrist appointment.

Plano founder and chief executive, Dr Mo Dirani, told OT that the application also has potential as a myopia screening tool.

Data is collected about the child’s age, utilisation of optometric care and the onset of myopia.

"The penny dropped for me that I could turn the problem into a solution. It is flipping the device into a screening modality"

Man vs machine

Dr Dirani highlighted that in Singapore there are three times more electronic devices than there are humans.

“The penny dropped for me that I could turn the problem into a solution. It is flipping the device into a screening modality,” he explained.

Dr Dirani emphasised that a rigorous process has been followed to ensure that data is secure and users are aware of what the information will be used for. 

Plano was released in Singapore as a public beta version at the end of October in 2017. Since then, more than 10,000 people have downloaded the app.

In the future, Dr Dirani would like to see the app rolled out alongside the national eye screening programme in Singapore.

Transforming healthcare

He envisions the app being used to collect a “rich database” of longitudinal data which can be used to inform policy and research allocation.

“We are changing the course of how we capture data and how we deliver healthcare,” Dr Dirani shared.

Although Plano is only available in Singapore at present, Dr Dirani would like to see the technology used in other countries.

“Plano will always be a Singapore success story but expansion is on the cards,” he added. 

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