Pune: Indian Retinopathy of Prematurity Society ( iROP) has intensified its initiatives to check blindness in preterm born babies informed Dr Rajvardhan Azad President of iROP society. He was speaking on the sidelines of the second annual meet of Indian Retinopathy of Prematurity Society (iROP ) society hosted by PBMA’s H. V. Desai Eye Hospital, Hadapsar . Dr Anand Vinekar Secretary of iROP and Head, Pediatric Retina, Narayana Nethralaya, Bangalore, Dr Sucheta Kulkarni Organizing Secretary iROP and Medical Director, H. V. Desai Eye hospital, Pune , Dr.Subhadra Jalali Associate Director, L V Prasad Eye Institute, Parvez Bilimoria, President The Poona Blind Men’s Association, Nitin Desai Chairman PBMA and Col. M. Deshpande Chief Medical Director HV Desai Eye Hospital were present on the occasion.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a disease occurring in preterm babies born below 2 kg of weight. This can cause permanent blindness in these tiny babies if not screened or treated on time.
Dr Sucheta Kulkarni Organizing Secretary iROP said that more than 55 Retino specialists from all over India attended the event along with the NGOs working in this field.
Dr Rajvardhan Azad said that we have intensified our program to to curb blindness in preterm babies. There are only 800 specialists working in this field while according to recent estimates approximately 3000 preterm children are turning blind for life in India and the number is likely to rise A major problem in improving screening coverage is shortage of ROP specialists. India records highest number of births in the world- 3.5 million (35 lakhs). Around 100000 of these babies need ROP screening. In the absence of screening facility, particularly in smaller cities and towns, they are likely to turn blind.
Dr Anand Vinekar Secretary of iROP and Head, Pediatric Retina, Narayana Nethralaya, Bangalore said we are intensifying our program by conducting various awareness programs, training of paramedical staff for use of telemedicine and use of technology for ROP screening. Accreditation and validation of ROP practitioners is also on the cards to ensure quality work.
Elaborating on the use of technology , Dr Sucheta Kulkarni said that digital wide field cameras for ROP screening is being used in few centers . Advantage is that paramedical staff can use it. So a baby admitted in rural hospital can also get screened for ROP. Usually ROP specialists are located only in urban centers. So rural babies at more risk of Blindness due to lack of top specialists. Images captured on the camera can be sent to urban Center for diagnosis. This helps in bridging the gap between rural babies and urban specialists.
She added that iROP society as a group of specialists plans to present their case to the high ranking government officials to make ROP screening legally mandatory.
Dr.Subhadra Jalali associate Director,LV Prasad Eye Institute said that while in other countries eye check up for new born babies is a routine, we rarely do it in India. This is also a part of the larger problem.
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