KARACHI- On November 17th, World Prematurity Day was observed across the globe. Around the world various campaigns were conducted, targeted at spreading awareness regarding premature babies, common medical conditions encountered in them, and their care and treatment options.
Amongst many issues, Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is said to be a dynamic disease that may start 2-3 weeks after birth. This condition affects the eye development of pre-term babies that have typically received intensive neonatal care due to other complications. ROP is characterized by the development of abnormal blood vessels in the retina of the eye, resulting in scarring and retinal detachment. This condition can be mild and may resolve spontaneously, but in serious cases, it may progress rapidly, resulting in blindness.
If the child is effectively screened and examined within the first 30 days of birth, laser treatment can be activated to turn the condition around. “Tees Din Roshni Ke” (Thirty days for Vision) should become a slogan for all pre-term babies.
Shortage of trained personnel required to deliver effective treatment for premature babies, especially who are still in critical care, is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
Moreover, chronic hypoxia (lack of oxygen), intrauterine growth retardation, prenatal and postnatal conditions are the most common triggers of ROP. Babies born after under 34 weeks in gestation and weighing less than 2,000 grams are particularly susceptible to ROP and must be screened within 20-30 days from birth.
High levels of supplemental oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels are also known to aggravate ROP. During neonatal incubation, pre-term babies are to be provided with blended oxygen, strictly controlled and monitored using pulse oximeters.
Other risk factors that are associated with ROP include anemia, bradycardia, intraventricular hemorrhage, and need for blood transfusions.