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Flavius Beca, Tara Anne Dugel, Parag Shah, Ramachandran Ramyadevi, Subramani Murugan, Robison Vernon Paul Chan, Narendran Venkatapathy; The Retinopathy of Prematurity - Save Our Site Program: Analysis of Gender and Socioeconomic Status in a ROP Telemedicine Program in Southern India. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):2776. doi: https://doi.org/.
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Globally, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a leading cause of preventable childhood blindness with a resurgent incidence of ROP primarily affecting middle-income countries. Previous studies have suggested gender, race and possibly socioeconomic status are risk factors for more severe ROP. A ROP telemedicine program, ROPE-SOS (Retinopathy of Prematurity – Save Our Sight) was designed to provide care to children at risk for ROP in underserved and rural areas in Southern India. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between gender and socioeconomic status with ROP in the ROPE-SOS program.
At risk babies were identified in rural Special Neonatal Care Units (SNCUs). Trained technicians traveled in specially designed mobile unit with a retina camera to rural areas. Images were transmitted (in real time) via broadband internet to a ROP expert at the Aravind Eye Institute in Coimbatore, India. A treatment strategy was determined by a ROP expert based on the baby’s ROP severity and systemic status. Prospectively collected data from the ROPE-SOS program was analyzed to determine the relationship of ROP development with gender of socioenomic status in this cohort.
45 SNCUs were covered within a 200km radius of Coimbatore. 7,299 at risk babies were screened over a 2 year period. 3,928 (53.5%) at risk babies screened were male and 3,332 (45.7%) were female (p>0.05). There were no statistically significant differences in gender for patients when evaluating the category of ROP. Private versus government SNCUs were used as proxies for socioeconomic status. For all babies screened, a total of 609 (18.7%) were diagnosed and treated for ROP in private SNCUs versus 822 (20.4%) in government SNCUs (p>0.05).
The ROPE-SOS program has demonstrated a successful strategy utilizing technicians, a mobile telemedicine unit, and ROP experts to service a broad, rural and underserved area in Southern India. The program has the potential to serve as a scalable model for underserved areas around the world. Previous studies have demonstrated that males may have a higher risk of severe ROP. The ROPE-SOS program has demonstrated the ability to screen, diagnose and treat babies without bias regarding socioeconomic status. There were also no statistically significant differences in gender for the babies screened in this program.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.
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