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World Sight Day 2018 - Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

Worldwide, Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) continues to be a leading cause of childhood blindness. It is a potentially blinding eye disorder that primarily affects premature babies. This disorder, 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.

Recently, RANZCO teamed up with the University of Papua New Guinea and UNICEF to conduct a workshop on Retinopathy of Prematurity at the Port Moresby General Hospital. The workshop aims were to upskill eye care professionals, pediatricians and nursing staff in the identification and treatment of retinopathy of prematurity.

Through funding available from the Australian and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF), an indirect ophthalmoscope - the traditional standard of care for ROP, has been donated to the Hospital. The availability of this equipment enabled workshop participants to be upskilled in the use of indirect ophthalmoscopy to detect ROP. Special care nurses and neonatologists have also been upskilled in oxygen administration and resuscitation procedures for premature infants.

“We had an amazing team from Australia - a specialist neonatal nurse from the Royal Children's Hospital, Melissa Stewart, and a neonatologist from the Monash Children's Hospital, Risha Bhatia, together with myself, an ophthalmologist at the Royal Children's Hospital and Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne. The medical and nursing staff in Port Moresby are passionate about providing the best possible care for their newborn patients and they were smart and keen to learn as much as possible. For my team, we were overwhelmed with their thirst for knowledge. The experience for us was tremendous and we hope to return to give a refresher course next year, and also to visit other provinces.” Says Associate Professor Susan Carden

"Preventing newborns from blindness is one of the most important things that we can do. Teaching ophthalmologists in developing countries, such as Papua New Guinea, how to examine newborns’ eyes is incredibly rewarding. It means that there is the potential for a sustainable management of newborn eye health and the prevention of lifetimes of blindness".

This initial workshop was the first of a proposed wider program aimed at addressing the eye health of newborns in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands region.

ROP photo

 The first workshop on Retinopathy of Prematurity held at the Port Moresby General Hospital.