Marking World Prematurity Day on November 17

Every year on November 17, World Prematurity Day is marked globally to raise awareness of the 15 million babies born early, and the impact it has on families. Being born preterm also comes with the risk of retinopathy of prematurity and possible blindness. But what is retinopathy of prematurity and what can we do about it?

What Is Retinopathy of Prematurity?

Babies born at a very early gestation can develop Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) where blood vessels grow abnormally and uncontrollably, causing damage to the light-sensitive layer of the retina.

In the worst case scenario, this can lead to bleeding and scarring that can pull the retina away from the wall of the eye (retinal detachment), putting the baby at risk of becoming blind.

As the leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide, it's particularly prevalent in Latin America and South East Asia where more premature babies are being saved, but few hospitals have the skills and resources to deliver the care needed. This is where our eye care teams around the world are stepping in to help enhance the quality of neonatal care and treatment for infants.


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Retinopathy of Prematurity in Numbers

How Orbis Is Fighting Retinopathy of Prematurity

With the right awareness, knowledge and equipment, ROP is entirely preventable. Thanks to your support, our eye care teams are working with local health partners globally to save babies and infants from a lifetime of blindness by:

Training and innovation:

Through our global projects, our expert volunteers are providing invaluable training to more health workers to better understand and treat ROP, both in-person and online through our telemedicine platform, Cybersight.


Working with our long-term partners around the world, we have helped scale up resources and strengthen capacity in hospital neonatal units to prevent, diagnose and treat ROP. For example, our partnership with Instituto Damos Vision in Peru has led to a 50% decrease in the number of hospitals classified with poor Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) standards in Lima and Northern Peru.

By providing technical assistance for NICUs, we have helped improve the delivery of care for premature babies. A report confirms that these improvements have occurred by providing better infrastructure, treatment and training – particularly with improvements to the delivery of oxygen therapy.

Working with communities:

At the community level, our partners are helping to increase awareness and understanding about ROP by educating expectant mothers about this serious eye condition and the critical importance of having their babies screened soon after birth.

Thanking Our Supporters on World Prematurity Day

On World Prematurity Day, we'd like to pay a special thanks to all of our volunteers, partners and generous supporters who have enabled us to improve the quality of eye care for premature babies through our projects around the world. With your ongoing support, we've been able to ensure more babies grow up free from blindness and visual impairment.


You can help us save even more premature babies from ROP – and an entire lifetime of blindness.

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