Retinopathy of Prematurity Program


When babies are born preterm, they often face significant health challenges since their fragile bodies need more time to grow and develop. One of the risks is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a serious eye disorder caused by abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina – the part of the eye that is sensitive to light. Without timely intervention, ROP can cause blindness. However, with early diagnosis and intervention, a baby’s sight can be saved, and their life trajectory forever changed.

Your generous support will make it possible to develop and implement a comprehensive ROP program across Calgary, central and southern Alberta. With state-of-the-art digital imaging, electronic tracking and a virtual health model, the program will support vulnerable little ones and their families with high-quality care closer to home.

Alberta Map of Areas to Expand servicesThere are approximately 440 babies affected by ROP in central and southern Alberta each year. Infants who are at risk of developing the condition need to be screened once a week. However, many smaller or rural hospitals and centres are not able provide these tests. As a result, about 17 percent of ROP screening appointments with ophthalmologists in Calgary are for babies from out of town. Weekly visits to Calgary for screenings – and potentially monitoring or treating ROP after diagnosis – can take a heavy emotional and financial toll on families, whose newborns have likely already experienced a lengthy stay in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) far from home facing additional health issues associated with preterm birth.

With your support, vision experts will have access to leading edge screening technology and a standardized data-sharing system to streamline care, remove barriers and reduce complications in tracking patients. Additionally, specialists in three other cities – Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge – will be trained and equipped to provide ROP screening and care at their own sites. This means families currently travelling long distances to access the resources needed for their child’s best health can receive care closer to home while staying connected to the hospital team in Calgary.