Screening for and treatment of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

The Challenge

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is an eye disorder that primarily affects premature infants. ROP usually occurs within two or three weeks after birth; so the main challenge is to treat it within the first month. The child should receive treatment within 40 to 72 hours as an emergency. Left untreated, ROP, which usually develops in both eyes, is one of the most common causes of vision loss in childhood and can lead to lifelong vision impairment and blindness.

The key challenges in treating ROP include awareness levels among parents, availability of skilled ophthalmologists to detect and treat the condition and availability of medical equipment needed for diagnosis and treatment. To add to these, ROP does not produce any symptoms that make a swift diagnosis possible.

The Solution

Cognizant Foundation has launched a programme to screen for and treat ROP to prevent avoidable childhood blindness. Under this programme, the Foundation has partnered with reputed not-for-profit organisations and specialist eye hospitals to offer quality ROP care for the underserved in five States. This programme aims to screen over 11,000 premature babies. Those babies identified with ROP get treated with laser, injection or surgery depending on the ROP stage. Treatment is administered either at the district hospital or the city neonatal centres, depending on the severity of the case.

So far, the programme has screened over 8000 premature babies across five States, offering ROP treatment for babies needing intervention, saving them from a lifetime of blindness.

This programme uses the 3Nethra Neo, a compact, portable, and easy-to-use mydriatic wide-field imaging camera used for the photo documentation of ocular diseases that manifest in the human eye. It is an indigenous lower-priced alternative to the imported ROP screening equipment. Neo Camera at a lower cost with the same functionality has facilitated ROP programmes that were not possible earlier due to the prohibitive cost.  The Neo camera helps a trained technician capture the image of the eyes. ROP experts examine the captured images transmitted over the internet and provide their diagnosis. Based on this consult, the programme provides the necessary treatment to babies requiring intervention.

The initiative has been implemented in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana and Tamil Nadu in partnership with Aravind Eye Hospital, Chennai, H V Desai Eye Hospital, Pune, L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Hyderabad and Mission for Vision, Mumbai.

"When you look into the baby’s eyes and see the warmth and a smile, then you know that this partnership has really blossomed."

Dr. Subhadra Jalali Director, Retina Institute, LVPEI