Singapore is often labelled ‘myopia capital of the world’, with Dr Lam Pin Pin, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Health stating the prevalence is 65% in primary school students, and rises to 83% in young adults.
“By 2050, it is projected that 80 to 90% of all Singaporean adults above 18 years old will be myopic and 15 to 25% of these individuals may have high myopia,” he said.
He explained that high myopia increases the risk of eye disorders later in life, such as early cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
In light of this, Beh Kheng Suan, country head of Malaysia and Singapore at VitaHealth observed: “We see a change in customer behavior. Nowadays, it is not only the older group of people who are looking for eye care supplements to improve their eyesight. Younger customers are also looking for eye care supplements due to long hours of staring at their screens, which can cause dry and tired eyes.”
In particular, she pointed out that eye care was especially important for I-gen (4-16 years old) and millennials (17-34 years old) as these groups were most prone to myopia and digital eye fatigue.
Blue light protection
VitaHealth currently has four products in its eye care line. It also markets health supplements with functions ranging from joint, liver, cardiovascular to blood sugar control.
Beh told NutraIngredients-Asia that eye supplements were among the top five categories sold in Singapore, and she expects sales to grow between 10 to 15% year-on-year.
Last year, the firm launched Eye-Pro, a supplement claiming to offer blue light protection. According to Beh, Eye-Pro is the first eye care formula in Singapore containing meso-zeaxanthin.
Beh explained that the macula in eyes is responsible for sharp and detailed central vision. It is largely made up of three xanthophyll carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin, collectively known as the macular pigment.
“Of the three carotenoids, meso-zeaxanthin has the greatest capability of quenching oxygen radicals. It has the highest capacity to filter the most energetic and potentially damaging wavelengths of visible light, and to neutralise free radicals,” she said.
The supplement is formulated with XanMax, a patented marigold flower ingredient manufactured by India’s Katra PhytoChem.
For every 200mg of XanMax, there is 20mg of lutein and 4mg of trans-meso zeaxanthin. Trans-meso zeaxanthin refers to total zeaxanthin comprising of both trans- and meso- isomers.
In a clinical study, supplementation of XanMax for six months was found to increase macular pigment optical density and serum lutein concentration.
“This macular pigment acts as ‘internal sunglasses’ to protect the photoreceptor cells in the retina against harmful light and improve vision. In combination, lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin provide the most potent antioxidants that can localise to the macula and represent the natural oxidative protectant,” Beh explained.
With the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in many people working remotely, she said the firm had seen sales of Eye-Pro picking up. “There is an increase in Eye-Pro sales as many people are working from home and spending more hours staring at a computer screen. This product helps to protect vision from the damaging effects of blue light emitted by digital devices.”
VitaHealth’s supplements are sold on its official website, as well as other e-commerceplatforms including Lazada, Shopee and Qoo10. Its offline presence includes departmental stores, pharmacies, hospitals and polyclinics.
In terms of trends in eye care ingredients, Beh said lutein, zeaxanthin and bilberry would continue to remain popular.
The global eye health supplements market is expected to grow from USD1,412.12m in 2018 to USD2,116.12m by 2025 at a CAGR of 5.94%.