Myopia is a complex eye condition, with both genetics and environmental risk factors contributing to its development. It is estimated that half of the world’s population will have myopia by 2050. In Singapore alone, more than 50% of 9-year olds are reported to have myopia, with direct costs of myopia estimated to cost 1 billion dollars annually. While there are current interventions to manage myopia, the opportunity lies in developing preventative screening and early intervention mechanisms that help reduce or delay the onset of myopia. This can be achieved by addressing the environmental risk factors, most of which are modifiable or can be mitigated.
plano is a parental management app that aims to manage smart device use and myopia in children worldwide. The app was developed within the SERI-SNEC Ophthalmic Technologies Incubator programme and was then further supported by the National Health Innovation Centre Singapore (NHIC). Primarily targeted at parents with young children aged 3 to 12 years of age, plano can be installed in the device and runs in the background. As the child uses the device normally, plano tracks behaviours that are associated with myopia risk factors, such as face-to-screen distance, screen time, device free activities and poor posture. The child is incentivized to adopt the right habits through a points and rewards based system, which empowers them to form a better and more balanced relationship with their smart device. These rewards are associated with outdoor activity that has been shown to be protective for myopia, and encourages children to have more device-free time.
During registration, important eye related data are also captured. plano recommends eye tests using a validated framework for eye testing frequency in children, with the aim of getting children who need prescriptions into optometry clinics in a timely and regular manner. Parents can choose to receive regular reports on their children’s device use, and can also subscribe for recommendations for better device management. plano also comes with a suite of parental control functions which allows setting of appropriate device use times, restricting the apps that can be used, and remote locking using the parent’s phone.
NHIC’s grant played an important role in developing the full iOS version of plano, which allowed for extensive internal testing & iterations. Beyond funding, NHIC was instrumental in helping the company gain exposure with various important stakeholders. For example, plano was offered a full-sized booth to exhibit at the 2017 SWITCH / SLUSH technology and innovation week, a very well-regarded start-up and tech fair. This provided plano with more than thirty highly relevant leads, ranging from venture funds, media exposure, and potential industry partners. NHIC continued support has been more valuable to plano than the funding itself.
plano is currently available in Singapore and can be downloaded for free on the iTunes App Store and on the Google Play Store. It includes a 30-day free trial for the premium features which include the parental control tools. The eye health features remain free and accessible to everyone, even without a subscription. The next countries planned are Australia, China, Taiwan in 2018, and with Korea and Japan slated for 2019.