J&J Vision Sets Collaboration to Address Myopia Epidemic With Two Singapore Organizations

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SINGAPORE—The Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) and Johnson & Johnson Vision have announced a $26 million research collaboration to tackle myopia, the largest threat to eye health this century, according to an announcement on Monday. By 2050, half of the world's population is projected to be myopic, with 1 billion expected to have high myopia, a severe state of the condition that can lead to retinal disease with an increased risk of blindness, the announcement noted.

The $26 million program is a collaboration between Johnson & Johnson Vision and SERI, which is the research arm of SNEC, over three years. Johnson & Johnson Vision is making a $15.8 million investment, comprised of cash and in-kind contributions, while SERI's investment is $10.6 million in cash and in-kind contributions, the announcement stated.

This is the “first-of-its-kind public-private strategic partnership in Asia to focus on myopia and will create a deeper understanding of how the condition develops, how it progresses and how it may be intercepted,” according to the announcement. The effort will focus on developing predictive tools to identify those who may be at risk to develop high myopia, conduct research on the underlying mechanisms of myopia, progress novel therapies, and discover and validate methods to prevent the onset and progression of the condition.

Paul Stoffels, MD, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson, said the incidence of myopia is “increasing at an alarming rate around the world and if left unchecked, the human and financial toll could skyrocket in the coming decades, especially in Asia.”

He added, "We are delighted to be collaborating with SERI and SNEC to better understand the underpinnings of this condition and identify ways to halt this global public health threat. Together, we hope to bring important progress to individuals and families throughout the Asia Pacific region and ultimately, around the world."

"Documented increases in myopia, especially among young people, are a serious concern and if we can understand the underlying mechanisms that are contributing to its rapid rise, we can work to tackle the problem at its roots," said Professor Aung Tin, executive director of SERI. "SERI is strongly committed to collaborating with leading companies to address eye diseases, and we are excited to be embarking on this research collaboration to break new ground against the epidemic."