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Vision Excellence Awards: Wong Tien Yin

Prof Wong Tien Yin

Prof Wong is an outstanding physician-scientist in ophthalmology who has made substantial scientific and professional contributions in our understanding of the global epidemiology, burden and risk factors of visual impairment and the major eye diseases, particular on diabetic retinopathy (DR) and myopia.
Importantly, over nearly 20 years, Prof Wong’s seminal research on the prevalence, trends and risk factors for eye diseases in Asia has resulted in substantial advances in our understanding of major causes of blindness in Asia. Such data, previously lacking, are important as by 2040, >50% of patients with visual impairment are in Asia. His findings were also extensively cited in IAPB, WHO and other agencies.

    1. Diabetic Retinopathy. Prof Wong’s research has improved the understanding of the burden and risk factors of DR in Asia and globally. Prof Wong’s paper on the global prevalence of DR (Yao et al. 2012) has been cited >2,000 times and has provided data for planning of public health strategies for DR management and screening. Prof Wong set up Asia’s first national DR telemedicine screening program, which now screens >150,000 persons with diabetes annually. He also chairs the International Council of Ophthalmology Diabetic Eye Care Committee which synthesizes and disseminates international guidelines on the management of DR based on a country’s resource settings (e.g., high vs low). These Guidelines are now disseminated widely and translated to multiple languages (Wong et al. 2018).


    1. Myopia. Prof Wong’s studies have provided specific population-level estimates on prevalence, incidence and risk factors of myopia in diverse populations, particularly in Asia. His major studies in Singapore, which has a unique, multi-ethnic Asian population (Chinese, Indians, Malays) have provided new insights into the impact of ethnicity and immigration patterns on myopia. These data contributed to the foundation of myopia research in Asia for IAPB, WHO and other bodies.


  1. Digital technology and artificial intelligence (AI). His research on use of digital technology such as retinal imaging which have shown that measurements of changes in blood vessels in the retina may be a unique non-invasive test for a person’s risk of DR and systemic complications including stroke, heart disease and kidney diseases. In the past 5 years, his team has led global research in using AI for DR screening, with novel discoveries and publications in major journals such as New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Nature Medicine, Nature Biomedical Engineering, and Lancet Digital Health. His team’s major paper using 500,000 images from 10 groups around the world developed and validated an AI-based deep learning system to detect DR (Ting et al. 2017)

Overall, Prof Wong’s has significantly contributed to the advancement and knowledge in ophthalmology and major public health understanding of eye disease. His work has been highly cited, used by IAPB and other agencies to drive transformation of care, and made a significant impact on our current understanding and practice in managing the treatment of various eye diseases. For these reasons, I strongly recommend Professor Tien Y Wong for the Vision Excellence Awards 2020.