27 August 2010
By Nozia Sayyed
It is a disease that causes blindness if not detected and treated in time
In Pune, about 28% of the premature babies are affected by some kind of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease that causes blindness if not detected and treated on time.
According to retina consultant and deputy director of the city–based HV Desai Eye Hospital, Sucheta Kulkarni, ROP mainly occurs in premature babies, whose weight is less than 2 kg at birth. "Mostly in those babies who are born before 34 weeks of pregnancy," she added.
HV Desai Eye Hospital had carried out a study on ROP in association with a UK–based NGO, Sight Saver International, a–year–and–a–half ago. In India the incidence of ROP can be as high as 58% in premature babies, but the awareness needed in this field is poor, which is why the project was initiated.
"We started this project to save vision in premature babies and spread awareness about this disease at our hospital. Sight Saver International not only provides funding but also training to our staff involved in the project," added Kulkarni.
Talking about the project she said, over 700 premature babies have been screened so far from the city and around 30% were found to be down with ROP. Of them 18% needed treatment.
ROP normally starts occurring after a few weeks of birth but, if detected in time, it can be treated. Vision can be saved in almost 95% of the babies if detected early, she added. A baby affected with ROP can lose vision in only a few weeks. Therefore, early detection is suggested.