Singapore's award-winning eye-health Plano app now available for Huawei users
By Celine Chen
SINGAPORE, NNA – China's Huawei Technologies Co. and Singapore's award-winning health-tech startup Plano Pte. Ltd. have entered a partnership to help tackle the global problem of myopia afflicting children and teens.
The Plano app, that encourages activities and good habits with the guidance of parents to lessen unhealthy long hours of screen time on devices, is now available on the Huawei app gallery and Huawei wearables, including the new Huawei Watch 3.
Apart from Singapore, Plano solutions such as its popular app will also be available for Huawei users in China.
Apart from the app, the startup also offers an eye health booking system, a global eye health education-based website called planoEyecheck and even a reward system.
The move by Huawei to offer Plano solutions on its products comes at a time when Chinese authorities are cracking down on mindless and unsavory gaming and webcasts to protect minors.
An article in a state-backed media outlet, which slammed online gaming for "endangering the physical and mental health of minors" and called for an urgent stop to such harmful addiction, went viral recently, forcing big players like Tencent Holdings to announce that it would curb minor's access to its controversial flagship game.
Already patented in Japan and Singapore, the Plano app has been adopted by more than 500,000 parents, said Plano in a press release on August 4.
"Through this partnership, Huawei and Plano will provide Huawei users with easy-to-use, innovative, and science-based technological solutions to help keep children and families safe online and their eyes healthy, with a focus on myopia," said Plano.
In May, Plano won the "world’s most innovative health-tech startup 2020 award" given by Galen Growth, a research firm studying global health-tech trends.
After less than three years of its inception, it was recognized as a global leader in the fight against myopia or nearsightedness, through education and promoting awareness, technological solutions, as well as research and AI capabilities.
Founded by associate professor Mohamed Dirani, Plano was launched in late 2017. It was the first spin-off from the ophthalmic technologies incubator program carried out by the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), which comes under the country's ministry of health.
Sun Pei Yuan, head of Huawei ecosystem development Singapore, said the collaboration with Plano marks an important milestone as it "addresses the needs of consumers who are increasingly using technology to track, manage, and improve their health and wellness for better living."
The Chinese tech giant expects to forge many more of such health-tech partnerships, Sun added.
Mohamed Dirani, who is Plano's managing director and an adjunct associate professor at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, said, "This is an outstanding start to our partnership. We are eager to continue our work with the fast moving and friendly team at Huawei to help tackle the global problem of myopia."
Myopia is one of the most common health problems in the world, affecting about one in three or 2.6 billion people in the world, according to a study said Plano.
The number of people with the problem is expected to increase to five billion by 2050, or half the world's population.
Myopia is highest in East Asia and Southeast Asia. It affects 80-90 percent of teenagers and young adults in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and 96.5 percent of 19-year-old men in South Korea.
It is also become more common in Europe, Australia, and the United States.
The direct costs of myopia in Asia alone have been estimated at $328 billion yearly, with an additional $244 billion in productivity losses associated with the condition, said Plano quoting another study.
The Singapore National Eye Centre set up a clinic in 2018 to provide specialized care for patients with high myopia. It sees an average of about 800 patients yearly, said the health ministry in May.
It said in a written answer to parliament, "Studies have shown that preventive measures such as increased outdoor time can delay the onset of myopia and myopic progression in children and the development of high myopia in young adults."
It is estimated that increased outdoor time may reduce the prevalence of the eye disorder by 13 percent in children, and consequently, a potential 12 percent reduction in high myopia among future cohorts of young adults.
By reducing myopia progression rate to 50 percent, through the combined use of pharmacological products such as atropine eye drops and optical therapies, the prevalence of high myopia could potentially be cut down by up to 90 percent, said the health ministry.