Children like Liza who are born prematurely, are at-risk of developing retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease that affects the development of blood vessels in the retina and can lead to blindness. A child's early learning is dependent on good vision, with experts estimating that as much as 80% of what a child learns is visual. Orbis intends to work with partner hospitals to improve early detection and treatment of ROP, reducing blindness and visual impairment among premature babies in Peru.
In Peru retinopathy of prematurity has become the most common cause of childhood blindness. Latin America and the Caribbean are particularly vulnerable as two-thirds of the global cases of blindness due to ROP occur in this region due to increased survival rates for smaller and less mature babies. Without proper medical attention, many children face a lifetime of blindness. Loss of sight increases the likelihood of social isolation and poverty resulting in overwhelming social and economic costs.
To avoid permanent visual impairment or the devastating loss of sight, specialized skills training and equipment specifically for child eye treatment are needed. Orbis will help improve standards and practices ensuring quality ophthalmic care for premature babies and implement universal ROP screening for premature infants, reducing childhood blindness due to ROP in partner hospitals serving the Lima District in Peru.
We will build the capacity of our partner hospitals to screen for and treat ROP through training, facilities and infrastructure. We ensure that local communities have access to sustainable, quality eye care even after our project has ended. When children like Liza can see clearly again it positively affects their health, wellbeing and access to education. Restoring sight ensures that all children have a happy childhood and equal opportunity to learn and participate in a strong, vibrant society.