Retinal Imaging for Preemies

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Five month old Aaron Catlin was born fourteen weeks before his due date. That makes him susceptible to retinopathy of prematurity, an abnormal growth of the blood vessels in the retina.

According to Pediatriac Ophthalmologist Dr. Linda Angell, "They can break, bleed, cause scarring, cause retinal detachment and permanent vision loss."

"If you or I have an eye problem, we go to the eye doctor. And they dialate and sit us down at a lamp or camera and say look left or right and take pictures. Well the small babies don't listen that well, " says Jim Ahrendsen, of Clarity Medical Systems.

That's why the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sparrow Hospital is excited to now have RetCam Two.

Ahrendsen explains, "You can do video with it. You can do the wide field with it. You can do anterior segment, which is the front part of the eye, you can do retina, the back part of the eye which they'll do in the NICU."

The advanced retinal imaging technology is specifically designed for preemies. It was purchased through the help of a 129-thousand dollar grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities.

"Rather than take a bunch of notes all the time, you can look at a picture. Take a picture this week and next week and bring them up side by side and see if they're staying the same, getting better or worse, " says Ahrendsen.

"The whole goal of examining the babies and having a process like this is to make sure if the retinopathy develops, if it becomes to a point where it's potentially vision threatening, those babies can be offered laser treatment, which really reduces the chances of permanent vision loss," Dr. Angell says.

Giving premature babies one less challenge in life.

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