Saving the sight of newborn babies—thanks to your support

This Giving Tuesday, you—our supporters—rallied together to raise more than $100,000! With the incredibly generous matched contribution of Orbis supporter Mrs. Leslys Vedder, we raised over $200,000 in total that will go towards saving sight in newborn babies and improving access to eye care around the world! A big thank you to everyone involved!

The money raised will help strengthen our commitment to providing premature babies with the care they need to avoid going irreversibly blind. But why are premature babies at risk of blindness and what are we doing NOW, to save the sight of so many young infants? Read on to find out.

What Is Retinopathy of Prematurity?

Retinopathy of prematurity is a potentially blinding disease that affects premature infants. It’s the leading cause of blindness in children, causing 41% of pediatric blindness. The disease is especially prevalent in Latin America, where more premature babies are saved but hospitals lack resources to deliver crucial care. With your help, though, we’ve been able to give babies back their vision so they can live bright futures.

ROP causes blood vessels to grow abnormally and uncontrollably in the eye 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.

Virtual Training During a Global Pandemic

Despite the pandemic, our work training eye care teams to screen and treat ROP hasn’t stopped! Earlier this year, we launched a three-week Virtual Flying Eye Hospital project in Latin America that focused on the treatment of ROP. Generously supported by our partner Alcon, this project saw 191 eye care professionals from 21 countries tune in to Cybersight to hone their sight-saving skills.

The Virtual Flying Eye Hospital ROP program

As part of our effort to expand Cybersight learning materials into new languages, this course was delivered entirely in Spanish. The series included live lectures, webinars and panel discussions, all of which were in the participants’ native tongue. This deep level of immersion enabled everyone on the eye care team—from ophthalmologists to nurses, neonatologists to vision specialists—to grow their skills in treating ROP.

None of these incredible courses would be possible without your support, which has allowed us to dedicate even more resources to Cybersight and online learning—thank you!

Our Legacy in Latin America

To prevent ROP, we’ve been arming eye care teams with the necessary awareness, knowledge and equipment. With your contributions, we’ve equipped hospitals with oxygen for therapy and tools for universal screening of infants. We’ve also worked with intensive care units to improve pediatric facilities, ensuring proper care for the newborns. At the national level, Orbis has promoted pediatric protocols and guidelines for ophthalmic care, as well as create training frameworks for local hospitals. All these efforts have combined to improve the outcomes for babies in Latin America, but our work isn’t done yet.

Dr. Luz Gordillo is an ROP eye health hero

The Flying Eye Hospital first touched down in Peru in 1982. Since then, we've spent nearly four decades improving eye care facilities and working alongside local partners to save sight.

One of those incredible partners is Orbis eye hero Dr. Luz Gordillo. As a world-leading specialist in retinopathy of prematurity, she knows the importance of premature babies receiving rapid screening and treatment. That's why Dr. Gordillo continued her crucial sight-saving work during the pandemic, making long journeys with a government pass amid travel restrictions. Her efforts have been instrumental in ending avoidable blindness in the region, and we can't thank her enough for everything she's done.

A Happy Family

To see just how much your support is helping families, say hello to these adorable triplets! Two years ago, we met Ester, Sara and Ruth, three sisters born prematurely and at risk of developing ROP. After being screened by Dr. Luz Gordillo at a nearby Orbis partner facility, it was discovered that Ruth had advanced ROP. Fortunately, Dr. Gordillo, who has dedicated her life to saving premature babies’ sight, was able to perform surgery on Ruth the next day. After a successful laser operation, her bandages were removed and her sight was saved.

Today, the girls are still taken to follow-up appointments with Dr. Gordillo. Their mother is so happy she could get the proper eye care for her daughters, and so are we.

Thank You

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