‘Screen babies for ROP to avoid blindness’

ST Correspondent
Monday, 24 July 2017

Pune: In India, 30 million children are born every year, out of which 0.3 million need to be screened for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP).

“According to our estimate, close to 20,000 children across India are at risk of developing complete blindness due to this disease,” said Dr Rajvardhan Azad, President of Indian Retinopathy of Prematurity Society (iROP). He was speaking during a seminar on Indian Retinopathy of Prematurity Society (iROP) on Saturday.

Pune: In India, 30 million children are born every year, out of which 0.3 million need to be screened for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP).

“According to our estimate, close to 20,000 children across India are at risk of developing complete blindness due to this disease,” said Dr Rajvardhan Azad, President of Indian Retinopathy of Prematurity Society (iROP). He was speaking during a seminar on Indian Retinopathy of Prematurity Society (iROP) on Saturday.

With efforts on to prevent occurrence of various diseases, Indian Retinopathy of Prematurity Society (iROP) has raised concern over the ignorance associated with Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a disease, which, if not diagnosed and treated early in a new born baby, can make the child blind for life. Members of the society informed that ROP usually occurs in preterm babies born weighing less than 2 kg.

To address the issue of lack of awareness about this disease, the society is planning initiatives to educate people about the need for early diagnosis and treatment for premature babies especially those born weighing less than 2 kg.

Azad further stated that ROP can be treated if it is diagnosed within 4 weeks.

Dr Subhadra Jalali, Associate Director, LV Prasad Eye Institute, stated that the importance of checking the eyes immediately after birth or within a month has not yet been understood and many find it an unnecessary test, which is wrong.

“Child blindness is highest in India, which can be prevented if there is awareness about early diagnosis. Once diagnosed with ROP, the treatment has to be done immediately. After treatment, the child can attend school, work on computers and do all work normally,” she added.
Dr Sucheta Kulkarni, Organising Secretary, iROP, and Medical Director, HV Desai Eye Hospital, Pune, said that usually ROP specialists are located in urban centres. Due to this, rural babies are more at risk of developing blindness due to lack of access to specialists.

“To address this issue, digital wide field cameras are being used in few centres for ROP screening. The advantage of this is that the paramedical staff can also use it. Hence, a baby admitted in rural hospital can also get screened for ROP. Images captured on the camera can be sent to urban centres for diagnosis. This can help in bridging the gap between rural babies and urban specialists,” added Kulkarni.

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