World Prematurity Day

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 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 & South East Asia where more premature babies are being saved, but few hospitals have the skills & resources to deliver the care needed. This is where our eye teams around the world are stepping in to help enhance the quality of neonatal care and treatment for infants.

Retinopathy of Prematurity: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Discover more

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.

Working with communities:

At community level particularly in Peru, our partners are improving awareness about the eye disease by educating mothers around the condition.


Our partnership with Instituto Damos Vision has seen 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.

Read more about our work treating ROP in Peru here.

Raisa's Story

Raisa was born prematurely in a rural area of Bangladesh. Because she was born so early, she was at risk of losing her vision permanently to retinopathy of prematurity. But today, she’s a healthy toddler with full sight – because of the treatment she received at our partner hospital in Bangladesh, and friends like you.

a mom holds her toddler who was born premature in bangladesh

Raisa needed treatment quickly – before she lost her sight forever

Raisa’s parents were hoping for the safe arrival of their baby after losing their first child when Raisa’s mom was seven months pregnant.

When Raisa arrived at just 34 weeks – six weeks early – she had to be separated from her parents to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit. There, she was diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity.

But although little Raisa was born in a rural area, she was able to quickly receive the sight-saving treatment she needed: shortly after her diagnosis, she received injections in her eyes at Orbis’s partner hospital, the Dr. K. Zaman BNSB Eye Hospital.

Today, she’s a healthy, growing toddler with full sight. She’s growing up knowing what her parents and grandparents look like, and she’ll soon be able to go to school and get an education.

This couldn’t have happened without generous donors to Orbis, who helped provide the training and resources needed to help babies like Raisa who are born prematurely.

Your generous donation will help save the sight of these vulnerable children and people worldwide.

Millions of babies around the world are born prematurely each year, which makes them at risk of becoming blind from retinopathy of prematurity.

Today, retinopathy of prematurity is a leading cause of blindness in babies worldwide, and is particularly prevalent in Latin America and South East Asia. Wonderful advances in treatment mean that more premature babies are being saved, but fewer hospitals have the skills and resources to provide the screening and treatment these babies need to grow up with healthy vision.

And it’s critical that premature babies get treatment quickly: each baby that is born too early must receive screening within weeks of birth, and babies who are identified to need treatment should start treatment within days if possible.

You Can Save a Baby From Blindness

With proper awareness, knowledge, and equipment, blindness from retinopathy of prematurity is entirely preventable. And that’s where you come in.

As a supporter of Orbis, you will help us provide that awareness and knowledge to more local healthcare providers on the ground – so no matter where a baby is born, she can get the care she needs.

Will you help protect the world’s most vulnerable children from blindness and support sight-saving programs worldwide?

A Special Thanks

On World Prematurity Day, we'd like to pay a special thanks to all of our volunteers, partners, and supporters who have enabled us to improve the quality of eye care for premature babies across the world.

With your ongoing support, we've been able to ensure more babies grow up free from blindness and visual impairment.


Help us save even more premature babies from blindness

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