AIIMS gives vision to Pak kids

They had eyesight problems due to premature birth

Two Pakistani children, who would have never been able to see all their life, have got the capability of partial vision after a rare surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

They suffered from vision retinopathy of prematurity (RoP), a disease that babies born prematurely suffer. Recovery is partial because the disease was diagnosed late.

Mohammed Hassan Faisal from Lahore was born within seven months of pregnancy, seven weeks premature. He weighed 1,300 gm.

At three months, they noticed his eyes did not follow light, Faisal was taken to the doctor. It was only when he was seven months old that his parents came to know of advanced RoP in their child.

A few months later he was brought to Dr R P Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS. Now he has got partial vision and can perform daily tasks.

RoP is caused due to disorganised growth of blood vessels in the retina. In certain cases, it can cure on its own. But in serious ones, it can cause blindness.

“Small children cannot express their ailments. In case of every premature baby, test for RoP should be conducted. About 20 to 40 per cent children are affected with this in different populations,” said Dr R V Azad, chief of RP Centre.

In the case of Syed Mubashir Mehmood from Sukkur, Sind, his RoP was diagnosed only at the age of seven.

He was born within 28 weeks of pregnancy, weighing 1,200 gm. He underwent other treatments for three years before the RoP diagnosis. Due to the delay, he was in stage five of RoP with complete blindness.

“The child is doing fine now and within three to six months, he will be able to gain ambulatory vision,” said Dr Azad.

Ambulatory vision means being able to see objects and move around a room without stumbling or bumping into obstacles. 

“RoP surgery is one of the most difficult surgeries in eye care because of the difficulties involved in general management of newborns and the inherent difficulty of managing the immature, fragile and elastic retina among the young,” said Dr Azad.

AIIMS is one of few institutes in the government set-up where the surgery is carried out. “Earlier too, we had referrals from Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Dubai and Bangladesh for RoP surgeries,” said Dr Azad.

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