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A clear vision: Kenny Liew

Inspiration to start a business can come from myriad places. For Kenny Liew, the idea for Topvision Eye Specialist Centre came from his wife and vitreoretinal surgeon, Dr Angela Loo Voon Pei.

Kenny Liew, Founder and Group CEO of Top Vision Eye Specialist Centre

Angela would often travel to different areas in Malaysia to train doctors in regional government hospitals or clinics. While there, she saw many individuals in regional areas who suffered poor eye health due to a lack of adequate healthcare facilities or medical specialists.

“Many patients came to see her, but for some it was too late because their cataracts had over-matured and hardened so they lose their vision,” Kenny explains.

In addition, Angela noticed the lack of awareness many people had for taking care of their eyes. She particularly mentioned the risks of playing badminton, after performing surgeries on children who suffered eye injuries as a result.

“The shuttlecock would hit their eye and the child would get a retinal detachment or lose their vision,” Kenny explains.

A study by Dr Yi Liu from the Capital Medical University in Beijing even found that two-thirds of sports-related eye injuries in Malaysia are caused by badminton.

As an entrepreneur, Kenny decided to take action. He established Topvision Eye Specialist Centre in Banting, Malaysia in 2010 and brought his wife together with Dr Peter Chong as a Medical Director on board, with a mission to provide high-quality and affordable eye care.

The centre treats eye injuries and diseases, from cataracts to age-related macular degeneration.

In 2018, it was listed on the Malaysia Stock Exchange, and today it has five centres in Malaysia, with a market capitalisation of more than RM100 million.

Kenny adds that there are three more new centres currently in progress, one of which will be an International Eye Specialist Centre.

It is earmarked to be a sub-specialty, multi-disciplinary, tertiary eye centre offering retina, cornea, glaucoma, paediatric, aesthetic and oculoplastic, refractive and LASIK services with in-house general anaesthesia services for complex eye procedures, including cornea transplant. This centre is also targeted to cater to international patients.

Topvision has a commitment to corporate social responsibility, providing free eye screenings to the general public and cataract surgery to the poor.

Kenny Liew, Founder and Group CEO of Top Vision Eye Specialist Centre

One of Kenny’s more memorable cases was that of a man who had lost his vision due to cataracts. He later lost his job. “Before the surgery he could only see a grey shadow in front of him,” Kenny recalls.

“Many ophthalmologists told him he was literally blind and incurable. Eventually, he became a beggar and thought he was going to live in the gutter for the rest of his life.”

That all changed after he received cataract surgery from Dr Peter Chong. “The moment he opened his eyes after surgery, he got extremely excited and burst into tears,” Kenny says, adding that 80% of the patient’s vision had been restored.

“He was so grateful to Dr Chong’s skilful surgery. He could see all the colours in the beautiful world and it meant so much to him. I’m so happy for him and now he can go and find a job.”

As a business leader, Kenny believes in doing the best for the company and executing his job with passion. “My personal motto is very simple: the more an employee is committed and contributes to their company today, the better the chances are they will be a successful CEO tomorrow,” he says.

Even though Kenny is a CEO, he says he still learns new things every day. “My role in the company is both as employee and employer. I work for our investors and shareholders, taking care of their interests to make sure the company is growing healthily. As an employer, I’m responsible for my company’s interests and the long-term careers of my teams. So, I try my best to create a better lifestyle and environment for the community.”

Topvision is geared to address the eye health trends occurring in Malaysia. Kenny highlights that the country’s demographic change is progressing at a much faster pace.

“As a result of technological innovation, cataract patients can now be given options that suit their lifestyle and preferences.”

“10% of Malaysia’s population will be over 65 by 2020,” he says. “By 2045, it will be 14%.” As a result, patients are opting for earlier cataract surgery with a desire to maintain an active lifestyle.

Another major trend is the rising income level among Malaysians, which is boosting demand for intra-ocular lenses.

“As a result of technological innovation, cataract patients can now be given options that suit their lifestyle and preferences,” Kenny says. “Some may want multifocal lenses and others may want normal lenses.”

Having run the business for nearly 10 years, Kenny is proud of how far Topvision has come. He says he wouldn’t have been able to achieve these results for the company without his team; mentioning Dr Peter Chong, the company COO Carolyn Soong, and Kenny’s wife, who have been with Topvision since day one.

“I am grateful for their hard work, cooperation, sacrifice and commitment,” he says. “Without them, Topvision couldn’t have achieved what it has.”

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