Imagine growing up not knowing what a smile looks like, not knowing how blue the sky is. Sadly, this is the case for babies who are permanently blinded by Retinopathy of Prematurity, an emerging eye condition that affects premature and low birth weight babies. Regular screening for low birth weight babies and timely treatment are crucial to preventing blindness due to ROP. This project aims to increase access to quality ROP screening and treatment to babies in Bangladesh.
About 3.75 million infants are born in Bangladesh each year, of which 25,000 weigh 1.5kg or less. These babies are at a high risk of ROP, a condition that leads to lifelong blindness. If untreated, they will spend their entire lives in darkness, unable to see the beauty of the world. Most doctors and parents are not aware of the severity of ROP and many babies go needlessly blind. Bangladesh is in urgent need of trained, experienced nurses and proper equipment to screen and treat these babies.
Orbis has already established Bangladesh's first ROP screening and treatment service centre and provided training, equipment and refurbishment to partners in Dhaka. We plan to expand this project to other regions of Bangladesh to reach more babies in need of eye care services. We will continue to educate neonatal teams on ROP, train doctors and nurses, provide equipment, and raise awareness of ROP. Trained medical teams of our partners will continue to provide ROP screening and treatment.
Living a life of darkness means a lifetime of costs of care and dependency. When children can see again, they can be independent, go to school and get a decent job when they grow up. Restoring sight ensures that every child has equal opportunity to learn, play and participate in the creation of a strong, vibrant society. The caregiver, often the mother, can return to work and earn additional income to give the family a better life. The baby's life is transformed and family burdens are lightened.