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Technological Advancements Driving Opthalmic Space In Malaysia.

14-May-2021   Dr Kenneth Fong Choong Sian, Designation: Consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Managing Director OasisEye Specialists, Immediate Past President, Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology (MSO), Council Member Asia Pacific Vitreoretinal Society (APVRS), OasisEye Specialists   Author: Nishtha Noonwal

In conversation with Dr. Kenneth Fong, Consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreoretinal Surgeon,  Managing Director OasisEye Specialists, Immediate Past President, Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology (MSO), Council Member Asia Pacific Vitreoretinal Society (APVRS), we attempt to identify the key trends in Malaysia Ophthalmology Market, Key Technological Interventions, COVID Impact and how the Players in the industry differentiates themselves.

Q. What is the current stage (Growing/Maturity) of Ophthalmology Market in Malaysia? What do you believe are the growth factors and the challenges in Ophthalmology Market in Malaysia?

Ophthalmology Market in Malaysia is still in the growing stage as Proportion of Malaysia Ageing Population is continuously increasing over the years along with rising number of cases of Myopia among Malaysians in the country. Malaysia has also witnessed a lot of Non Communicable Diseases like Diabetes resulting in Eye Diseases like Diabetic Retinopathy. Smaller regions in the country have comparatively less number of Eye Clinic and Centre and hence have witnessed demand for Ophthalmology services in these regions.

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Q. What technological advancement changes have you witnessed in the last few years in Ophthalmology space in Malaysia? Are the Patients in Malaysia adapting to these Technological advances?

Malaysia has witnessed multiple advances in terms of Technology. Private Ophthalmology Clinics and Hospitals are using Latest Surgical equipments in eye related practices and treatments. Some companies introduced Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems to predict the risk of developing common eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, ARMD and Glaucoma, to prevent blindness whereas some introduced a neuro rehabilitation software, that uses virtual reality (VR) games to help binocular vision disorders such as lazy or squint eye, i.e. treatment of their conditions with the usual therapies. However, prices of the treatment are also a major concern for Majority of the Malaysians. They are more concerned about the prices of the procedures than the technological innovation any player introduces in the market.

Q. Malaysia recorded maximum number of Surgeries of Cataract in 2020. What according to you are the major Eye Surgeries performed in Malaysia in 2020?

Cataract accounted for maximum number of surgeries in Malaysia in 2020 followed by Refractive Errors. Glaucoma was also among the top surgeries performed in Malaysia majorly for two types of Glaucoma, i.e. Traveculectomy and Open Angle Glaucoma. Public Hospitals performs surgeries like Cataract at comparatively low prices. However, prices for surgeries like LASIK are usually high and are only performed in Private Healthcare settings.

Q. What is the proportion of Ophthalmology Consultations across Single Specialty Clinics/Hospitals and Multi Specialty Hospitals?

Single Specialty Clinics dominate the Market in terms of Number of Consultations as Patients visit the clinics close to them rather than visiting a hospital. However for Surgeries the decision is made with respect to Ophthalmologists and their Experiences. Major Single Specialty Clinics include ISEC Malaysia, Optimax Eye Specialist, Tunn Hussein Eye Hospital, OasisEye Specialist etc. Multi Specialty Hospitals accounted for comparatively less number of consultations in 2020. Major Multi Specialty Public hospitals include Shah Alam, Selangor & Kuala Lumpur Hospital; Private Hospitals include Pantai, Sunway Medical centre etc. and University Hospitals like UM (University Malaya), UKM (Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia) etc.

Q. How are the Players in Ophthalmology Market positioned in Malaysia? What are their major focus areas or competing parameters in Malaysia?

Ophthalmology Market Players in Malaysia are either focusing towards Regional Expansion by opening their centres at multiple locations or gaining specialization in Service Portfolio. Players like ISEC Malaysia, OasisEye Specialist, Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital have sub-specialty in the Ophthalmology, however comparatively less Number of Locations than other clinics like Optimax Eye Specialty, Vista Eye Specialist etc. Referral Centers of the Clinics & are usually located in main locations of the state. Alternatively, other players are focusing towards Basic Surgeries, Cataract and Refractive. Clinics are focusing on introducing small clinics in Multiple Locations, i.e. opening Locations primarily to cater small untapped Target Audience in those regions.

Q. How has COVID impacted the total number of consultations and Surgeries in Malaysia? What new guidelines were implemented by the Government with respect to Ophthalmology services as a result of COVID situation?

Restrictions were implemented as a result of Movement Control Order (MCO) introduced by Federal Government of Malaysia to control COVID19 Pandemic effect on the Country in April and May 2020 wherein Clinics were not allowed to perform elective surgeries. Number of Surgeries performed in Government hospitals declined, as Hospitals were focusing on admitting and treating COVID Patients. On the other hand, surgeries in Private Ophthalmology clinics also declined but by comparatively a lesser percentage or for some clinic the number remained the same. However, post the pandemic effect the situation was getting back to normal. A decline of 70%-80% was recorded in terms of Number of Consultations in the initial phase of the Pandemic.

Verbatim: “The Malaysian private Ophthalmology market is vibrant and competitive. There is a growing demand for ophthalmology services but it is limited by the number of trained local specialists available. There is an oversupply in major urban areas while the rural areas remain underserved.”

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