Comm Eye Health Vol. 30 No. 99 2017 pp 68. Published online 11 November 2017.

Key community eye health messages

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Preterm infant in an incubator on a neonatal unit

Babies born before 36 weeks (preterm) are at risk of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)

  • The more preterm they are, the greater the risk
  • Poor neonatal care increases the risk, even in less premature babies
Foot of preterm infant with pulse oximeter attached

It is possible to prevent ROP from causing visual impairment and blindness. This requires:

  • High quality neonatal care. If there is not enough equipment to safely deliver and monitor oxygen, this must be strongly advocated for
  • Screening: All babies at risk must be screened before 30 days after birth
  • Treatment: Laser treatment should be given urgently, with confluent spots
  • Follow-up: All children born preterm are at risk of visual impairment and must be followed up by an ophthalmologist and/or optometrist
Clinician talking to a mother about her preterm baby

Parents are important members of the eye care and neonatal team

  • Involve parents in the day-to-day care of the baby and encourage kangaroo care
  • Keep parents informed of the need for screening and the results of screening, and the need for urgent treatment, if required
  • Ensure parents understand the need for follow-up visits