Bhubaneswar: Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar and five medical colleges across Odisha can now provide free screening for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a potentially blinding disease caused by abnormal development of retinal blood vessels in premature infants weighing less than 1.25 kg.
Reportedly, the ROP is one of the most common causes of visual loss in childhood and can lead to lifelong vision impairment and blindness affecting babies born before 31 weeks of gestation, as a full-term pregnancy has a gestation of 38–42 weeks.
Ophthalmologists can only know about the disease only after performing ROP screening of the newborn babies. After the screening there is a need of laser surgery or a medicine is injected into the eye as an alternative to, or along with, laser surgery. The required ‘RetCam’ for the screening costs about Rs 1.5 crore and cost of equipment for laser therapy is over Rs 1 crore.
However, under the Sunetra Yojana, the Odisha Government has provided the equipments to Sick and New Born Care Unit (SNCU) of Capital Hospital and five medical colleges – SCB, VIMSAR, MKCG, Pandit Raghunath Murmu Medical College and Hospital Saheed Laxman Nayak Medical College.
AIIMS trained Ophthalmologist Ashwini Meherda and his team along with a Paediatrician is now performing the treatment of this disease at Capital Hospital. Till date the team has 186 infants have gone through ROP screening out of which six have received laser treatment and six anti-VEGF injection.
While market rate of the injection is over Rs 20,000, it is being provided free of cost under Sunetra Yojana, said Meherda.
It is worthwhile to mention that Retina operation had started at the Capital Hospital from May 26 under the Sunetra Yojana. While a patient has to pay over Rs 50,000 for the operation in any private hospital, it is being done free of cost at the Capital Hospital. Besides, the anti-VEGF injection for diabetic patients is also provided free of cost at the hospital.