Eye-related issues in the Asian region

As part of our effort to create a world where everyone has access to eye health, Santen is committed to improving eye care and developing the ophthalmic ecosystem in Asia, where the number of people suffering from diseases of the eye continues to increase. We are actively engaged in a partnership with Orbis International (Orbis), an international non-profit organization working to end avoidable blindness and vision loss. Additionally, we are in a strategic partnership with the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), which coordinates the provision of specialized ophthalmological services with emphasis on quality education and research, to support the development of healthcare professionals specializing in ophthalmology. We are also actively engaged in partnerships with ophthalmic societies and flagship hospitals in Asia to improve medical care for glaucoma and dry eye.

For this edition of Our Stories, we spoke with Santen Vietnam to learn more about the challenges of eye health in Vietnam and the collaboration with Orbis.

Promoting High-Quality Ophthalmic Treatment and Ecosystem Development in Vietnam

Ophthalmology in Vietnam – Challenges and Context

Developing countries in Asia and elsewhere suffer from a critical shortage of medical personnel such as ophthalmologists and technicians, severely compromising the delivery of suitable treatments not only for familiar eye diseases such as myopia and dry eye, but also for blindness-causing glaucoma and infectious diseases for which treatment methods are already well established in developed countries.

In Vietnam, an estimated 23,000 children and 400,000 adults suffer from blindness, while as many as 3,000,000 children suffer from some form of visual impairment. At least 80 percent of these cases are thought to be preventable or treatable1.

Two specific issues contribute to the situation in Vietnam. The first is the language barrier. Information on diseases and treatment approaches is often only available in English, making it difficult for medical professionals in rural areas to provide appropriate diagnosis and treatment to their patients. The second is the preference among many young physicians to work in urban areas, which makes recruitment of rural healthcare professionals a challenge.

Santen established an office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2013. Since then, we have been providing value to patients with ophthalmic diseases, working with a large number of healthcare professionals and with the key hospitals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City that support public healthcare in Vietnam. Over the same period, Vietnam has grown in importance as a market, and now ranks together with Thailand and Taiwan as the most important markets in Asia after South Korea. As a specialty company focusing on eye health, and a market leader of eye drop in Vietnam, we are committed to improving the level of ophthalmic treatment in the country.

Since inaugurating our partnership in 2020, Orbis and Santen have been leveraging our respective strengths to address and resolve issues related to the quality and quantity of eye healthcare in Vietnam.

1 Source: Orbis (https://vnm.orbis.org/en/blindness-in-vietnam)

Initiative 1: 7-fold Increase in Online Training Enrollment

Through its award-winning telemedicine and e-learning platform, Cybersight2, Orbis offers a variety of educational programs and diagnostic support to eye care professionals worldwide.
To ensure that as many local healthcare professionals as possible can take advantage of Cybersight, Santen is engaging with key opinion leaders (KOLs) in the field of ophthalmology. As of June 2023, 8 online courses and 41 medical education resources are now available in the Vietnamese language, addressing a major impediment to learning. KOLs and eye care professionals have responded positively to this achievement, which will result in improved standards of care today and in the near future.

“I volunteer with Orbis to help raise the overall level of ophthalmic care in Vietnam and to build and develop the ecosystem,” said Dr. Hoang Thanh Tung, an ophthalmologist and KOL. ““The real-time questions from participants in the online program and the exchange of opinions on actual cases were a learning experience not only for the participants but also for me. Santen is making a significant contribution to the development of ophthalmology in Vietnam not only though its products, but also by providing professional expertise and services.”

2 A free online education platform for ophthalmology professionals that provides a wealth of learning content, including basic to advanced training on ophthalmic diseases, and access to the latest clinical information. As of June 2023, nearly 84,000 eye care professionals across more than 200 countries and regions are registered users of the platform.


Dr. Hoang Thanh Tung speaks about the importance of training eye care professionals during the Santen project mid-term review meeting in May 2023.

Initiative 2: Over 150 Eye Care Professionals from Vietnam Participate in Practical Training

Orbis is also committed to improving access to medical technology. One such initiative is the Flying Eye Hospital, an aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment, an operating room, sterilization rooms, pre- and post-operative care rooms, and other facilities. Santen supports in the development and application of surgical simulators, AI and other digital technologies for the Flying Eye Hospital.

In May 2023, the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital offered its first in-person surgical training project since the pandemic began, landing in Vietnam for three weeks of training. In addition to simulation training and workshops, practical surgical training was conducted on actual patients. A total of 153 Vietnamese medical professionals participated in the program.

Can Tho, Vietnam 2023 Flying Eye Hospital program

Eye care professionals improve their skills through live surgical training during Orbis’s recent Flying Eye Hospital project in Vietnam

“I am pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in the on-site training,” said one doctor, Tran Thanh Binh, who participated in the training project. “The Flying Eye Hospital has state-of-the-art equipment and top-notch staff, and broadened my knowledge by exposing me to an operational experience and level of realism that would be difficult to acquire through online learning. Thank you for providing me with this opportunity.”

“As Santen's work in Vietnam enters its tenth year, we are pleased to see the growing awareness of the importance of eye health among the Vietnamese people,” said Tran, Medical Affairs Manager, Santen Vietnam.
“As an MA, I interact with medical professionals from a neutral standpoint, providing them with pharmaceutical information, disease awareness, and other support. We believe that improving the level of healthcare professionals and residents is an important theme in our daily work. Helping as many Vietnamese medical professionals as possible take advantage of the various programs that incorporate cutting-edge medical technology and quality clinical knowledge is an important role for Santen. Standing shoulder to shoulder with program participants and witnessing the moment when a patient’s vision has been restored is a wonderful feeling.
“We believe that our efforts will lead to early detection and treatment of eye diseases and ultimately maximize our value contribution to patients. We will continue to collaborate with healthcare professionals and partners to contribute to the advancement of eye care in Vietnam.”


Exterior: Flying Eye Hospital

Prior to its flight to Vietnam, the Flying Eye Hospital visited Japan, where Orbis had the opportunity to host corporate partners like Santen on board the plane. The aircraft's classroom, equipped with an advanced audiovisual system, allows local eye care teams to view the operating room in 3D and participate in a question-and-answer session using a microphone. (Photos taken at Kansai International Airport on April 22, 2023)

Improving Quality of Life of Patients Around the World

As a specialty company focusing on people’s eye health, Santen will continue to leverage the power of partnerships to address and resolve global eye health issues and maximize the value of our contribution to patients and society – not only in Asia, but in every country and region where we do business.

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