RETCAM Handing Over Ceremony | Western Cape Government


RETCAM Handing Over Ceremony

8 March 2011

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a disease that affects the eyes of premature babies. Abnormal vessels grow in the retina and can cause the retina to detach causing blindness. If the babies at risk are screened for the condition and treated promptly, permanent visual impairment can be prevented. Now, with the arrival of a RETCAM, Tygerberg Hospital will increase the standard of care for hundreds of babies.

With the RETCAM, a digital image is obtained of the retina without needing to restrain the baby for longer than a few seconds. Digital images of the retina may be reviewed & analysed at leisure and may be used for e-transmission for second opinions. ROP entails complex judgments & ambiguities and digital record of the image of the retina allows for better judgment and management of the condition.

Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, commented: "In this province we are truly proud of the technological advances we have made and this procedure is once again a demonstration thereof. I want to use this opportunity to congratulate all the medical staff involved in this process for their dedication to this cause."

The Neonatal division at the Tygerberg Children's hospital (TBCH) serves a drainage area with an annual birth rate of 60 000. Currently at the hospital, one Pediatric Ophthalmologist has to examine approximately 520 babies per annum by using an indirect ophthalmoscope. This examination can take about 5-10 minutes per baby. Because of this process only 50% of high-risk population is screened.

The risk group for developing ROP is a baby of a weight below 1500g and the highest at risk group are those babies with a weight below 1000g. They comprise 1.2 % of the births and the survivors in this weight category form the highest risk group for ROP.

ROP develops in one in 13 of these babies and therefore approximately 20 high-risk babies per annum lose out on being screened and go on to suffer from significant visual disability or blindness.

In addition to eliminating multiple examinations on fragile premature babies, the RETCAM may also be used in the diagnosis, management and documentation of Retinoblastoma (retinal tumor of childhood) infections of the retina, and the retinal haemorrhages seen in non-accidental injuries (shaken baby syndrome).

Issued by the Directorate: Communications for the Western Cape Department of Health.

Media Enquiries: 

Laticia Pienaar
Communications Officer
Cell: 073 464 2034