Up to 500 premature babies born annually at the National Maternity Hospital will now receive the most advanced sight-saving screening available, following the introduction of a new retinal camera in its neonatal unit.
The sight-saving piece of equipment, RetCam, was formally launched today by our ambassador, Victoria Smurfit, who was at The National Maternity Hospital to celebrate World Prematurity Day.
In 2017, we partnered with the National Maternity Hospital Foundation to help raise the funds for this specialised camera. It will allow all premature babies to be screened, and have surgery performed in time to save their sight if necessary.
The National Maternity Hospital neonatal unit is the main centre in Ireland for treating retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a severe eye condition, which can occur in premature babies, particularly those born under twenty-eight weeks’ gestation and under 1000grams. The retinal camera is a unique instrument that documents the condition in a child’s eye, providing high quality pictures both before and after treatment.
Prof Shane Higgins, Master of The National Maternity Hospital said, “We are absolutely delighted to launch RetCam especially on such a special day. Annually 500 babies born preterm in the hospital need to be screened for ROP. The new retina imaging equipment will allow continuity of effective scanning of premature babies and enable sight saving treatment, helping to prevent blindness in young babies, especially premature babies. ROP, if untreated, leads to blindness. The RetCam is a life-changing piece of equipment for the hospital and we would like to thank Fighting Blindness for partnering with us.”
Kevin Whelan, Chief Executive Officer, Fighting Blindness said: “We are delighted to have partnered with The National Maternity Hospital for the purchase of the RetCam. With the right equipment, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is very treatable and blindness can be prevented. Through our fund-raising initiative for RetCam equipment, we strive to provide the much-needed support at what can often be a difficult time for families and ensure brighter futures for the 500 babies who are born prematurely each year and need to be screened for ROP. We wish to particularly thank, Denis O’Brien, Allergan International Foundation and Its4Women.ie without whose sponsorship this amazing initiative could never have been realised.”