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Retinopathy of Prematurity: Practical Approaches to Prevent Blindness

Explore the strategies to prevent and treat retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) with this online course for healthcare professionals.

3,599 enrolled on this course

Nurse holding a very preterm baby in a neonatal intensive care unit, India

Retinopathy of Prematurity: Practical Approaches to Prevent Blindness

3,599 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 5 hours per week

  • Accreditation available

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Intermediate level

Find out more about how to join this course

Learn how the screening of ROP can help manage and prevent vision loss in babies

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) affects babies born preterm, before 37 weeks of gestation. Over 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely each year, and it’s estimated over 20,000 of them will become blind from ROP.

On this course, you will learn how a practical team approach needs to be aligned across neonatal care and ROP screening, and treatment and follow-up healthcare services to help prevent blindness in preterm babies. You will also look at how the risk of ROP and the level of neonatal care can differ between high and low-income settings.

Image © The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust / Poulomi Basu

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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds Every year 15 million babies are born preterm and approximately 32,000 of these babies will become blind or visually impaired. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a retinal disease which affects preterm infants, that is, babies born before 37 weeks of gestation. These babies need very careful management or they are at risk of becoming visually impaired or blind. We’ve known about this for almost 70 years. We can’t prevent preterm births, largely because we don’t understand what causes preterm birth. We know that the rate of preterm birth is rising so almost every country that you look at there’s a steady rise in the rates over the past 20-30 years.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds The way that we should try and approach this problem is by multidisciplinary professionals working together as a team and those professionals include neonatal doctors, ophthalmologists and particularly neonatal nurses who are key to providing good care. This 4 week course is aimed at neonatal and eye health care teams around the world. We begin at the point of birth of preterm babies and consider how prematurity affects the development of their eyes and what is ROP? Screening and treatment for ROP involves both health providers and parents therefore a team approach is needed to continue to care for the vision needs of preterm babies long after they’re discharged. As more and more preterm babies survive we need to urgently raise awareness on ROP.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds Increase the availability of human resources, especially the skills. Equip neonatal units and provide the essential resources so that ROP gets integrated into the countries health systems and sight threatening ROP is minimized in most of the country Screening babies for ROP is very important. Laser treatment for ROP is effective but only if the disease is detected early enough! Having good protocols, records and communications within the team and with parents is essential for effective treatment. There are many opportunities throughout this course to learn from experts and neonatal health care practitioners, to test your understanding of the key concepts, and to share your reflections with peers, educators and mentors. So join us!


  • Week 1

    Understanding retinopathy of prematurity

    • Welcome to the course and week 1

      An introduction to the main course objectives and a chance to think about how you learn. Introduce yourself and meet fellow learners for the first time.

    • What is ROP?

      In this activity, we first learn the definition of prematurity. We then move on to learn about retinopathy of prematurity and how the various stages and types of this complication of preterm birth are classified.

    • Epidemology and impact of ROP

      A 'third epidemic' of ROP is affecting premature babies mainly in low- and middle-income countries with long-term effects on the children and their carers and families.

    • Building the ROP team

      Preventing blindness from retinopathy of prematurity requires well coordinated and multidisciplinary health care teams. Image: Andrea Zin CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

    • Ensuring quality of care for preterm babies

      Build your knowledge week by week on practical approaches healthcare teams can use to improve quality of care for premature babies, reduce the risk of ROP and improve outcomes. Image: Dino Abatzidis CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

  • Week 2

    Preventing retinopathy of prematurity

    • Risk factors of preterm birth

      Preventing premature birth is a key strategy to reduce the number of new cases of ROP.

    • The golden hour after birth

      Managing the first hour of preterm life is crucial for the long term outcomes of preterm babies and reducing their risk of developing ROP.

    • Preventing ROP in the neonatal intensive care unit

      Providing high quality standard care interventions in the NICU continues to improve preterm babies' health outcomes, including reducing their risk of ROP. Image Universidad de Guadalajara CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

    • Ensuring quality of care for preterm babies: The PDSA cycles

      Learn how healthcare teams can apply the Plan, Do, Study, Act cycles to identify whether a quality improvement intervention can work in a particular setting.

  • Week 3

    Screening and treatment for ROP

    • Principles of screening for ROP

      Active, timely screening is crucial to detect and manage ROP at an early stage after a baby is born prematurely. Image: Rajesh Pandey CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    • Managing ROP screening

      There are multiple 'moving parts' in ROP screening and treatment services which must all be brought together and managed to prevent blindness in preterm babies. Image: PHFI CC BY-NC-2.0

    • Treatment for ROP

      The evidence base on preferred ROP treatment approaches has changed over the years, from cryotherapy to laser treatment and anti-VEGF medication.

    • Ensuring quality of care for preterm babies: The PDSA cycles

      Evaluate a real world application of the Plan, Do, Study, Act cycles to improve oxygen saturation monitoring in the NICU.

  • Week 4

    Following up premature babies

    • Understanding the long term ocular & cerebral complications of preterm birth

      Children born preterm must be followed up over the long term to identify and address any development delays or complications which are affecting their vision. Image: Afsane omidimorad CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    • Managing ROP services and establishing programmes

      Monitoring ROP services and programmes is important to improve accountability for the use of funds and resources and to improve performance and prevent vision loss from ROP.

    • Ensuring quality of care for preterm babies: The PDSA cycles and Course summary

      Complete an appraisal of a real world application of Plan, Do, Study, Act cycles to improve oxygen saturation monitoring in the NICU and, finally, bring together your learning from the whole course and consider your next steps.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the classification, epidemiology and risk factors of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).
  • Assess and improve control strategies to prevent exposures to risk factors for ROP at birth and in the neonatal unit.
  • Evaluate the application of screening for prevention and early detection of ROP and models of service provision.
  • Explain the indications, methods of treatment and follow up for ROP.
  • Identify the importance of a team approach within the clinical care setting and developing continuous quality improvement strategies.
  • Reflect upon the importance of establishing clear documentation and communications for ROP management decisions with the neonatal and ophthalmic teams and with parents.
  • Evaluate and modify the protocols and models for involving parents in ROP management and long-term follow-up.

Who is the course for?

This course is for healthcare professionals such as obstetric and neonatal nurses, neonatologists, paediatricians, ophthalmologists and clinical officers.

Image © The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust / Poulomi Basu

Who will you learn with?

Associate Professor in International Eye Health. Ophthalmologist and Educator, focusing on research and education to eliminate avoidable blindness. Academic lead for the Open education for Eye Health

I am an ophthalmologist and have worked for 30 years in public health for eye care, focussing on low and middle income countries. My main interest is eye diseases in children, particularly ROP.

Who developed the course?

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is a world leader in research and postgraduate education in public and global health. Its mission is to improve health and health equity worldwide.

International Centre for Eye Health - ICEH

The International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH) works to improve vision and eye health worldwide.

They engage in a large variety of activities, spanning research, education, capacity development and technology, translating knowledge into policy and practice. All of their work is done in partnership with colleagues in low- and middle-income countries and is focused on populations with the greatest needs. They are based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 20 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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