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Prevent Blindness kicks off ROP Awareness Week with new program

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5 min read

A new education and support program offered by Prevent Blindness is launching this week, Feb. 26 - March 3, as part of the nonprofit organization’s first annual Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Awareness Week.

Let’s discuss ROP.

Caused by abnormal development of retinal blood vessels as a complication of preterm birth (before 37 completed weeks) and/or low birth weight, ROP can lead to partial or—in severe conditions involving retinal detachment—complete vision loss.

Give me some stats.

Out of the estimated 3.9 million infants in the U.S. each year, approximately 14,000 will have ROP. Of that number, 90% of infants will have a mild case of ROP, while 1,100 to 1,500 will develop a case severe enough for medical treatment.

Anywhere from 400 to 600 infants will become legally blind from the condition, according to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS). .

And on preterm births?

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics found that, based on data from 2014-2022, the preterm birth rate rose 12% (7.74% to 8.67%), while early-term birth rates, at 37 to 38 completed weeks, rose 20%.

Further, rates for both early and late preterm births increased by 4% during this same 8-year period, while births delivered early term increased by 20%.

Gotcha. So what’s going on this week?

As part of the 7-day awareness and education program—supported by funding from Regeneron, Inc.—Prevent Blindness has developed the ROP Education and Support Program in partnership with the following organizations:

  • Hand to Hold
    • Nonprofit that provides personalized emotional support, educational resources, and community before, during, and after a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay
  • National Coalition for Infant Health
    • Collaboration of professional, clinical, community health, and family support organizations using education and advocacy to promote patient-centered care for premature infants and families
  • SPAN Parent Advocacy Network
    • Nonprofit dedicated to helping families become advocates and partners to improve education, health, and mental health outcomes for infants, toddlers, children, and youth

And this program includes …

A wide range of free educational resources available to consumers and eyecare professionals (ECPs):

Any other educational videos?

The series is based on a recent roundtable discussion hosted by the organization, titled Your Child and Retinopathy of Prematurity, that featured clinical ROP excerpts as well as ROP patients and their families.

Who was involved?

Clinical experts included:

  • R.V. Paul Chan, MD, MSC, MBA, FACS, head, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, The John H. Panton Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and director, Pediatric Retina and Retinopathy of Prematurity Service, Illinois Eye and Ear, UI Health.
  • Tiffany Gladdis, PsyD, Division of Developmental and Behavioral Health, Section of Psychology, Division of Neonatology, medical director, Office of Equity and Diversity, Children’s Mercy Kansas City, associate professor, Department of Pediatrics, UMKC School of Medicine
  • Olachi Mezu-Ndubuisi, MD, OD, associate professor of Pediatrics and Ophthalmology, Flaum Eye Institute at the University of Rochester
  • Claudia Perez, BSN, RN, COA, ROP nurse coordinator for the Division of Ophthalmology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

So what else is going on this week?

A new ROP-focused episode of Blackdoctor.org, an online “wellness and culture connect” platform, will stream on Tuesday (Feb. 27) at 7 pm EST.

This week’s theme: Seeing Eye to Eye: Celebrating Eye Health Facebook Live series, featuring Dr. Gladdis and Charity Grannis, MD, pediatric ophthalmologist at Houston Eye Associates

Lastly, where can I watch this?

Click here for the streaming link.

Note: the video series is being conducted in partnership with Blackdoctor.org, Prevent Blindness, the National Eye Institute, and the Children’s Vision Equity Alliance.