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This content is taken from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's online course, Retinopathy of Prematurity: Practical Approaches to Prevent Blindness. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds Hello and welcome to the course. The birth of a baby is one of the most joyous moments in life provided everything goes as planned. However, the birth of a preterm baby can be a stressful event for parents and baby, and they need considerable care and support to manage the health risks associated with an early birth. One of these risks is a development of retinopathy of prematurity. In this first week we describe what is retinopathy of prematurity? Why does it occur in premature babies? What needs to be done to recognise the different stages and severity of retinopathy? How big is the problem of ROP globally and why health services must be involved?

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds Who should be part of the team that is involved to prevent visual loss from ROP in a premature baby? We will hear about the impact of ROP first hand from someone who has lived with ROP blindness for many years. Mr. Kevin Carey is the former chair of the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind people, a leading sight loss charity. We also introduce a practical plan, do, study, act approach which is known as PDSA that can be applied locally by you and your team to identify problems, analyse why they have happened and come up with solutions and test them to improve the quality of neonatal care and ROP services.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 seconds Each week we’ll return to this important topic by drawing your attention to common challenges and asking you to identify practical measures in your setting to prevent ROP. At every stage you’ll have opportunities to share your thoughts, experiences and resources. Take advantage of the comment option at the end of each step to share and exchange views on the topic with peers and multidisciplinary experts who we have supporting the course. So, let’s get started

Welcome to the course and week 1

Watch the short video on this page where our lead educators, Professor Clare Gilbert and Dr Daksha Patel, introduce you in more detail to the topics you’ll explore in Week 1.

Nyla and her family: A retinopathy of prematurity case study

Nyla was born prematurely at the primary health centre in her village in India. There were no facilities to care for a preterm newborn weighing just 1200 grams so the baby and her parents were transported to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of the district hospital in the nearest town.

When she was around 6 weeks old, Nyla was screened for ROP and the ophthalmologist recognised she needed urgent treatment. Unfortunately the hospital had no laser to treat ROP nor was the ophthalmologist trained in laser treatment. So the team arranged for a charitable organisation to pay for Nyla’s treatment at a hospital in the city. To get there, the parents had to travel overnight in an overcrowded bus with their baby daughter. Although they felt intimidated, as they had never been to a big city before, they were determined to do everything they could to get their daughter treated.

When they arrived at the treatment centre, Nyla was immediately admitted and the laser treatment performed free of cost the same day by an ROP specialist who asked the parents to come back after a week. As the parents could not afford to rent a place they slept beside the road outside the hospital.

Illustration of baby Nyla and her parents at the treatment centre a few weeks after she was born

After a week the specialist reviewed Nyla and told her parents that the ROP had started regressing. They were relieved that, despite the challenges, it had been worth it and agreed to continue follow up appointments with the ophthalmologist. Nyla is now 7 months old with a good prognosis and the family continue to travel to the treatment centre every 3 months.

Multiple factors (both social and within the health system) affected the ROP outcome for Nyla. Do you think this case study is a success story? What would have happened to Nyla in your setting? Share your thoughts in the Comments area on this page.

Getting started

To provide high quality, relevant and applicable learning for health care professionals in many countries and different health care settings, this course has been developed as a collaboration between neonatology, ophthalmology and public health experts from around the world.

We are really looking forward to interacting with you over the next four weeks and hope you enjoy this course. The main themes you will cover are:

  • The magnitude of retinopathy of prematurity and how to recognise and classify this condition.

  • The essential steps that need to be taken to reduce the risk of ROP in preterm babies.

  • The principles of screening for ROP and of long term follow up of babies with ROP.

  • Practical approaches to improving the quality of ROP services in your setting.

  • How to ensure that parents remain part of the care process.

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This video is from the free online course:

Retinopathy of Prematurity: Practical Approaches to Prevent Blindness

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine