Retinopathy of prematurity causes premature babies to needlessly lose their vision. It is the leading cause of childhood blindness.
What is retinopathy of prematurity?
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), caused by damage to the retina, can lead to total and irreversible blindness in premature babies. It affects preterm infants whose retinal blood vessels have been unable to develop fully before birth. An affected child may never see light.
Premature babies are often given oxygen in incubators to help them survive, but over-administration of oxygen can be highly toxic to the blood vessels, including those in the retina. Over-exposure to oxygen during the first few hours and days after birth is a major cause of ROP, as is infection. Blindness due to ROP is increasing in middle-income countries, where more premature babies are surviving thanks to improved neonatal care, but where knowledge of ROP and its prevention amongst healthcare workers is sometimes lacking.
What are we doing about it?
The Trust is working with the Government of India, the Public Health Foundation of India and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to increase awareness of the condition across India and develop programmes to detect and treat ROP, and so prevent more young children from needlessly going blind.
Our goal is to establish sustainable and scalable services for the detection and treatment of severe retinopathy of prematurity which are integrated into the Government of India’s health system.