New Equipment Guidelines for Blinding Child Disease Released

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a leading cause of preventable blindness in babies born prematurely. Infants born pre-term can experience disruption to the blood vessels at the back of the eye, leading to one in six babies with the condition developing severe vision loss. In some hospitals, a lack of adequate training can lead to the overuse of oxygen in premature children, which causes or worsens the conditions. This is becoming particularly pronounced in low resource settings.

Because of the severity of the disease, it is recommended that premature babies be screened for the condition, as early detection can lead to much better outcomes for children’s sight. Today a new equipment guide has been published, detailing the manufacturer requirements for a low-cost imaging camera which can be used for screening babies in low resource areas.

“The world is currently experiencing a third epidemic of blindness due to ROP,” says Clare Gilbert, an author on the guide and Professor at the International Centre for Eye Health. “We need to act now to prevent further babies from experiencing irreversible blindness”

The guide is part of a series of Target Product Profiles (TPP) developed by UNICEF that aim to improve newborn care in low-resource settings. The product profiles describe the minimal and optimal characteristics for tools that can be used to improve newborn care, with the aim of encouraging research and development of such devices.

Read the TPP for ROP here: