Hong Kong PolyU and Tung Wah Group of Hospitals collaborate on optical health initiative

To promote eye health and good habits in eye care among Hong Kong school children and parents, the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs) and the School of Optometry (SO) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have jointly launched a vision screening initiative called “Smart [email protected]”.

PolyU’s School of Optometry Associate Professor Dr DO Chi-wai shared the results of the eye screening and the importance of eye care.

The project also provides a platform for researchers to understand myopia prevalence and promote further study on control of myopic progression. The MoU signing cum kick-off ceremony of the project was officiated by Mr YEUNG Yun-hung, Kevin, JP, Under Secretary for Education, HKSAR Government, Mr SZE Wing-hang, Ivan, Chairman of TWGHs cum Honorary Supervisor, and Professor Timothy W. TONG, President of PolyU on 8 October.

The School of Optometry of PolyU had conducted on-site eye screenings for 688 students from TWGHs Wong Yee Jar Jat Memorial Primary School early this year and found that the prevalence of myopia is similar to previous studies, i.e. over 60% of school children aged 12 being myopic. However, the degree of myopia among the school children recorded a rising trend. The average degree of myopia for school children aged 12 was 167 degrees (-1.67D) several years ago, but our latest findings at TWGHs Wong Yee Jar Jat Memorial Primary School showed an average of 208 degrees (-2.08D), suggesting that school children were suffering from higher myopia now than before. More importantly, the percentage of school children having high myopia (more than 600 degrees or -6.00D) recorded a rising trend at 9.5% compared to 3.8% a few years ago, warranting attention of parents and schools. The findings mean that the myopia problem has become more serious and if left unattended, it would definitely affect the daily lives and hinder the learning of school children. TWGHs and SO of PolyU are concerned about the findings and have joint hands to initiate the “Smart [email protected]” project in an effort to promote primary eye care on campus.

Myopia is the most prevalent eye sight problem in Hong Kong. It develops rapidly as children grow, and parents are increasingly concerned. Researches show that around 80% of youngsters in Hong Kong and some Asia regions suffer from myopia. Nowadays, it is very common to find youngsters with high myopia (more than 600 degrees or -6.00D). Alarmingly, more than 80% of the entire adult population will be myopic within the next 30 years. Severe myopia increases the risk of sight threatening diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataract and peripheral retinal degeneration. These conditions may lead to permanent visual loss and blindness.

Mr SZE Wing-hang, Ivan, Chairman of TWGHs cum Honorary Supervisor remarked at the ceremony that schools, parents and children shall work closely to address the increasingly serious myopia problem. With the professional support from PolyU, TWGHs Wong Yee Jar Jat Memorial Primary School and TWGHs Ma Kam Chan Memorial Primary School will serve as model schools under the “Smart [email protected]” project. It is hoped that the success of the model schools, established based on theories and research findings, can demonstrate the best practice in course design, environment settings, furniture and relevant facilities, with the aim to promote healthy eye care among school children.

Speaking at the occasion, Professor Timothy W. TONG, President of PolyU stressed that SO, over the years, is dedicated to vision science by adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, pulling in expertise from all areas of clinical and basic science in conducting researches in controlling the myopic progression. It is expected that the collaboration with TWGHs will allow the SO research team to get to know more about myopia prevalence and to find ways to decelerate myopic progression. “Service Learning” which is a key element in PolyU life also plays an important role in the project. PolyU students supervised by teaching staff will conduct the vision screenings, through which PolyU students apply their professional knowledge in a wide range of community services, and also enhance students’ social responsibility and problem solving skills. The collaborating project totally reflects that service, research and education are all interlinked.

Further to the MoU signing of “Smart [email protected]”, the project will be rolled out in 13 TWGHs primary schools soon, providing on-site vision screenings for 6,600 school children. Other than that, SO will also advise and introduce eye health concept in the fitting-out of TWGHs Ma Kam Chan Memorial Primary School when it moves to its new campus site in 2016.

About Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs)

Since its establishment in 1870, Tung Wah has been all along upholding its mission "To heal the sick and to relieve the distressed; to care for the elderly and to rehabilitate the disabled; to promote education and to nurture youngsters; and to raise the infants and to guide the children." Nowadays, Tung Wah has become the largest charitable organization in Hong Kong. For over a hundred years, Tung Wah’s medical and health, education and community services have developed rapidly to fulfill the needs of the society and to provide high quality services at low rates. Today, Tung Wah operates over 279 services centres, including 5 hospitals and 27 health services and Chinese medicine services centres, 52 education services centres, 194 community services centres that cover elderly, youth and family, rehabilitation and traditional services, whilst the Tung Wah Museum strives to promote, restore and preserve the heritage and relics of Tung Wah.

About PolyU’s School of Optometry

The School of Optometry of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University is the only institution in Hong Kong offering the Honours Degree Programme in Optometry leading to the Professional Qualification as an optometrist in Hong Kong. An optometrist is a primary healthcare provider to promote ocular health through diagnosis and provision of suitable treatment. The optometry programme offered by the School is regarded as one of the best in world.

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Chairman of TWGHs cum Honorary Supervisor Mr SZE Wing-hang, Ivan (left) and PolyU President Professor Timothy W. TONG signed the Memorandum of Understanding.

Published: 08 Oct 2014

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