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Transforming ROP Care using the ICON Retinal Camera in Lower Middle-income Countries

Published: 22.03.2024
Mr Vikash Dudhia BSc (Hons) RN Dip Orth | Senior International Clinical Trainer

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a significant concern in neonatal care, particularly for premature infants. It’s a vascular disorder affecting the retina of the eye, often occurring in infants born before 31 weeks of gestation or with a birth weight of less than 1,250 grams. ROP can lead to severe visual impairment or even blindness if not detected and managed promptly. 

As a clinical trainer, I am honored to collaborate with exceptional physicians and nurses. I seize this opportunity to impart insights gleaned from our collective experiences. 

And as these amazing individuals share their experiences of navigating the complexities of ROP screening, diagnosis, and treatment. They reflect on the delicate balance between the necessity of interventions to preserve vision and the challenges they face in terms of resources. 

For parents, stories about ROP capture the mixture of hope and fear as they witness their baby’s journey through intensive care and ophthalmology appointments. They grapple with the uncertainty of their child’s future and the overwhelming desire to protect them from harm. 

Through these reflections, a deeper understanding of the impact of the need of wide-field retinal cameras emerges. They also shed light on the resilience of families, the dedication of healthcare professionals, and the importance of early intervention and support services for those affected by this condition. Moreover, they serve as a reminder of the ongoing need for research and advocacy to improve the prevention, detection, and management of ROP worldwide. 

Professor Adedayo Adio MD, FWACS, FMCOPHth, FCIA, FLVP   

Professor of Ophthalmology, Consultant Pediatric Ophthalmic Surgeon,  

University of Port Harcourt teaching hospital River state, Nigeria 

Securing the ICON retinal camera through philanthropic funding marked a significant milestone for the practice. With a dedicated focus on Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) care spanning nearly two decades, particularly within the realm of Neonatal care, the acquisition of the ICON retinal camera emerged as a pivotal endeavor. The transformative impact of this acquisition was evident in the subsequent analysis of the practice’s clinical data, revealing a remarkable 75% reduction in instances of blindness within the timeframe post-implementation. 

The integration of the ICON retinal camera fundamentally altered the approach to patient care. Previously overlooked cases of ROP are now routinely identified, facilitating timely interventions and enhancing overall patient outcomes. Moreover, the utilization of this advanced imaging technology has engendered greater engagement from parents, who are afforded the opportunity to visually comprehend the intricacies of their infants’ ocular health. This improved understanding empowers caregivers to elucidate treatment modalities effectively, fostering a collaborative environment conducive to optimal outcomes. 

The streamlined functionality of the ICON retinal camera, coupled with its user-friendly software interface, has catalyzed a paradigm shift in clinical practice. The ease of image capture, coupled with the versatility of exporting and sharing images, has imbued the practice with newfound flexibility and efficiency. Notably, the ICON’s portability and battery-operated functionality have rendered it particularly well-suited for deployment in resource-constrained settings, where access to reliable mains power may be limited. Consequently, more infants in underserved regions are now benefiting from timely screenings and interventions, resulting in a tangible increase in lives saved. 

Furthermore, the integration of the ICON retinal camera has underscored the importance of early education and intervention throughout the prenatal journey. By instilling awareness and understanding of ocular health dynamics during pregnancy, the practice aims to mitigate the incidence of ROP and optimize outcomes for neonates. 

In essence, the introduction of the ICON retinal camera has not only revolutionized the clinical practice but also underscored the profound impact that innovative technology can wield in advancing patient care, particularly within the realm of neonatal ophthalmology. 

Professor Dupe Ademola-Popoola  

Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Ilorin.       

Consultant Ophthalmologist-Paediatrics, Strabismus & Oncology services. 

University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin. Nigeria  

The adoption of ICON Go has significantly enhanced the capabilities of our practice in a distinct manner. Prior to its implementation, the process of screening infants posed considerable challenges; however, the introduction of this wide field camera has proven to be a transformative advancement. Its ability to capture comprehensive images has revolutionized our approach, eliciting heightened engagement from both fellow clinicians and parents alike. Recognizing its indispensable value, the integration of such technology is imperative for every healthcare practice. 

Furthermore, the incorporation of telemedicine functionalities within the ICON Go platform has streamlined patient management processes, allowing for concurrent management of clinical duties. The vision extends beyond our practice walls, with a fervent desire to see widespread adoption of such technology across practices in sub-Saharan Africa. 

In recognizing the holistic nature of healthcare, it becomes evident that the well-being of physicians is intricately linked to patient outcomes. The intuitive nature of training on the ICON Go camera has not only elevated the quality of clinical practice but has also facilitated the training of future practitioners. Particularly noteworthy is its efficacy in managing pigmented fundus cases, further underscoring its indispensable role in modern healthcare delivery. 

Screening for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) using a retinal camera is crucial for early detection and intervention, potentially changing the lives of many children. By capturing detailed images of the retina, clinicians can identify ROP in its early stages, allowing for timely treatment and minimizing the risk of permanent visual impairment. This approach enhances diagnostic precision and expands access to care, particularly in regions with limited ophthalmic expertise. By preserving the visual health of affected children, retinal camera screening initiatives contribute to healthier and more productive communities, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.