ISLAMABAD: More than eighty per cent of premature babies who weigh less than 1.5 kilogrammes at the time of birth are at the risk of developing disorganised growth of retinal blood vessels which can cause vision problems including permanent blindness, a leading eye-care hospital said on Sunday.
Babies born before 266 days have many obstacles to overcome in their first fragile weeks, one of which is eye development that can be resolved through screening and surgical procedure to help avoid serious eyesight problems later in the life, said the chief of medical services at Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital Dr Wajid Ali Khan.
Speaking to the media he said that the blood vessels of the retina begin to develop three months after conception and complete their growth at the time of normal birth. If an infant is born prematurely, eye development can be disrupted.
Using excess oxygen to treat premature babies in the hospitals stimulates abnormal vessel growth in eyes with the smallest and sickest having the highest risk of facing devastating effects of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), the leading cause of paediatric retinal blindness.
Studies have shown that keeping the oxygen saturation at a lower level from birth can reduce the rate of advanced ROP.
He said parents must include a vision screening in their list of baby check-ups between six and twelve months of age as every premature infant deserves the constant attention of an ophthalmologist because of his or her increased risk for eye misalignment, amblyopia and the need for glasses to developing normal vision.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2017.