Young female patient Genesis from Peru sits on her mom's knee during an eye screening

Meet the eye doctor saving babies from a lifetime of blindness

Every year in Peru, more than 7% of babies are born premature and at risk of developing one of the leading causes of childhood blindness, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).

It’s a race against time when it comes to treating ROP, and the reason why we’re working shoulder to shoulder with partners like Dr. Edwin Celiz Alarcón, to save babies from a lifetime of unnecessary blindness.

Dr. Celiz is a retina specialist who has been fighting ROP at our partner Trujillo Regional Hospital. His role is crucial because with ROP the timing and delivery of treatment can mean the difference between a child going blind or living a life with healthy sight.

Dr. Celiz has been working at our partner hospital for seven years and says that up until a few years ago, there was no dedicated retina service there.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Orbis stepped in to train the team and provide neo-natal services with the equipment and medication necessary to save the sight of those born prematurely.

Orbis-trained ophthalmologist Dr. Celiz sitting down with screening equipment in Peru

Dr. Celiz has received specialist training thanks to Orbis supporters.

From having absolutely nothing to having everything now, it's already a satisfaction. And my vision is to continue saving the eyes of all the citizens of the world.

Speaking about being trained by Orbis, he added: “I had deficiencies in training because not all surgeons performed cataract surgery or retinal surgery. Orbis trained many doctors at IRO (Instituto Regional de Oftalmología) and that's why it has improved a lot."

Dr. Celiz and his team are on call Monday through Saturday, and each day is dedicated to a different service for the tiny patients they meet, whether it be surgery, outpatient clinics, or consultations.

The specialist believes good eye care is critical, and says: “Ophthalmologists and all the people believe that vision are windows, the window of people's lives, right? Vision is, I believe, the most sacred thing in a person.”

Dr. Celiz from Peru screens a little girl's sight for eye disease retinopathy of prematurity

Dr. Celiz check the eyes of Genesis, a young girl who had here ROP treated successfully thanks to Orbis supporters.

When we met Dr. Celiz, the eye health hero had saved the vision of a young girl named Genesis, who was born at 26 weeks weighing just over a pound. Through careful monitoring from birth, she is recovering from grade 3 ROP, and because they acted swiftly, the outlook is good for Genesis, who is now four years old,

She will see even better in the future with follow-up treatment to correct her strabismus (squint), a small complication of ROP. He shares: I think she is a patient with a very good prognosis. For a child, up to the age of 8, they must develop all of their visual capacity. May it reach 100% or 20/20. And this we are going to help her with the lenses that normally improve.”

And while patients just like Genesis have a brighter future ahead, he would like to see more training, the latest technology, and better policies that will improve the timing and delivery of treatment of ROP. As he says, "In retinal patients, the delay time is high, it is long and sometimes the retina doesn't forgive.”

While great strides have been made, it is clear there is still much work to do to ensure Dr. Celiz and eye teams all over the world can give premature babies the best start in life.

But did you also know that it can cost less than $5 to examine a premature infant for ROP – and less than $250 to provide vision-saving treatment to a newborn in need?

That’s why a limited-time matching gift opportunity – made possible by long-time supporter, Mrs. Leslys Vedder – is so impactful. Make your gift by 8/31 to help provide premature babies with the vision care they need.

Your gift of $25 (now doubled to $50) can help provide ROP screenings for 10 premature infants.

While your gift of $50 (now doubled to $100) can help provide screenings for 20 babies born prematurely.

And your generous gift of $125 (now doubled to $250) can help provide the treatment needed to save a newborn baby’s vision.

Or your special gift of any amount will be MATCHED to help save babies’ sight – giving them back potentially decades-worth of healthy sight for the rest of their lives.

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