Article Abstract

The Indian retinopathy of prematurity society: a baby step towards tackling the retinopathy of prematurity epidemic in India

Authors: Anand Vinekar, Rajvardhan Azad, Mangat Ram Dogra, Venkatapathy Narendran, Subhadra Jalali, Pramod Bende


Background: India leads all nations in the number of preterms born annually. With over 3.5 million infants, a reducing infant mortality rate and an expanding base of rural neonatal intensive care units, the number of infants requiring retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) screening has dramatically increased. The number of ROP specialists in the country is currently inadequate. Leading ROP specialists of the country initiated the Indian ROP (IROP) society to address these challenges.
Methods: In 2016, the IROP society was conceived and registered as a professional body with a mission to prevent needless blindness from ROP by promoting standards of excellence. A national online membership drive was carried out. The data collected in this survey was analyzed to collate information on past training, practice patterns, ease of screening and treatment, use of wide-field imaging and willingness to be certified.
Results: Of the 113 members at the time of submission, 67.3% were male. 88.5% were formally trained for ROP and 85.8% were vitreo-retinal specialists. Of the practicing members, 96% were “comfortable” with screening and 86% with ROP treatment and this correlated with training (P=0.001 and P=0.002 respectively). Only 25.7% performed vitreous surgery for ROP. Wide field imaging was used by 33% of members in their practice and 52% of those who did not, wanted to use it in the future. Members who used imaging performed more number of laser treatments than those who did not (P=0.008). Laser was the preferred modality of treatment for 98% of members. A majority of the members (92.5%) were willing to be audited.
Conclusions: The IROP society is a novel platform for ROP specialists to collaborate. The society has setup short, mid and long-term goals to make ROP care more accessible and affordable with appropriate use of technology.