Reducing Childhood Myopia, Boosting Resilient Ageing Through Novel Light Exposure App


Fecha: 29-11-2023

TUMCREATE, a multidisciplinary research platform of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Singapore, and the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine), kicked off a new multi-disciplinary research project that examines the efficacy of optimising light exposure to reduce myopia prevalence among school-going children and promote resilient ageing through a novel smartphone-delivered behaviour-changing programme. Lead Principal Investigators, Assistant Professor Raymond Najjar from NUS Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology, NUS, and Professor Manuel Spitschan from TUMCREATE are looking to encourage proactive behavioural change through the rollout of a low-intensity behaviour-modification programme, delivered through the smartphone application “LightUP”.

Using data collected by a novel, wearable light sensor measuring visible and ultra-violet (UV) light exposure, the LightUP mobile app will provide personalised feedback for the user by presenting visualisations of light exposure throughout the day, showing long-term trends in light exposure and sending daily notifications to encourage the user to modify and adapt their behaviour to improve circadian rhythms, alertness, mood and cognition. The app will also provide quick and easy access, transfer and tracking of light exposure details and nudges whenever additional light exposure is needed so that parents can effectively monitor and optimise their children’s light exposure. 

The app leverages individual behaviour to empower parents to ensure that their children get the right light at the right time to prevent myopia, and urge senior citizens to take charge and improve sleep quality, cognition, alertness and mood. Additionally, LightSPAN will look into testing and establishing evidence-based lighting designs and policy recommendations for myopia-safe classroom lighting. 

Studies have revealed that light has a profound influence on human health, cognition and well-being. Exposure to bright light has also proven to provide strong benefits in reducing cognitive decline in dementia. The use of high-intensity light, sunlight or blue-enriched white light has also shown to stimulate the melanopsin system – the neurobiological pathway that supports normal circadian rhythms, which helps improve sleep quality, alertness, cognition and mood – functions that change with increasing age.

In Singapore, the ageing population comprised 17.6 per cent of the total population (in 2021) and is projected to increase to 23.8 per cent by 2030. Amid the challenges of coping with an ageing population, Singapore is also simultaneously grappling with a high prevalence of myopia (near-sightedness), with more than 80% of young adults in Singapore affected by the condition.