Can We Stop the Current Epidemic of Blindness From Retinopathy of Prematurity?
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Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a retinal vascular disease of the premature infant. There have been significant advances in the understanding of the pathogenesis, prevention, detection and treatment of severe ROP. In developed countries, all premature infants at risk for ROP are screened routinely based on national guidelines and treatment is prompt, resulting in good visual outcomes. Blindness from ROP is a rare event in these countries. However, there is an ongoing epidemic of ROP- induced blindness in India. The reasons for this epidemic of ROP blindness are many and include increasing survival of premature infants, lack of equipment such as oxygen-blenders and pulse oximeters that are necessary for safe use of supplemental oxygen in premature infants, lack of routine screening for ROP, lack of trained personnel for ROP screening, and lack of Ophthalmologists to promptly initiate treatment when infants develop severe ROP. All the identified causes can be resolved with a concerted national co-operative effort of Pediatricians, Neonatologists, Ophthalmologists, Indian Academy of Pediatrics, National Neonatology Forum, Indian Academy of Ophthalmologists, Government of India, and parents of premature infants. We feel that tt is possible to stop the current epidemic of preventable childhood blindness from ROP with concerted action by all stakeholders.
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