June 17, 2020

New camera will make eye exams easier for fragile babies

A new piece of equipment that has just recently arrived at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital will bring more comfort to premature babies requiring eye exams.

During a baby’s long journey in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), many require ophthalmology examinations for the screening of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a condition that can lead to poor vision or even blindness.

Diagnosis involves an ophthalmologist conducting a physical examination to evaluate a baby’s eyes with a binocular indirect ophthalmoscope after the pupils have been dilated with drops. The procedure can be uncomfortable for babies, and often needs to be repeated several times to monitor the condition, causing repeated stress on babies who are already in a fragile state.

Now a new retinal camera will allow medical staff to capture images of a baby’s eyes without the need for an uncomfortable, sometimes painful, procedure. The specialized equipment provides a high-quality retinal image, where the accuracy of these images will have a clinically significant impact on diagnosis and treatment for the disease process of ROP.

The NICU retinal camera was made possible thanks to a generous donation of more than $180,000 from the Saskatchewan Lions Foundation and Lions Clubs International Foundation. The Saskatchewan Lions Foundation was formed to enable the Lions of Saskatchewan to collectively respond to various provincial needs, with more than 100 Lions and Lioness Clubs helping contribute towards the camera and implementation costs. Lions Clubs International Foundation serves as an opportunity for all Lions of the world to contribute to humanitarian needs worldwide.

“Together, Lions Clubs contribute toward a provincial fund to support projects that are of a provincial nature. As we donate to health-related programs, specifically related to eye-health care, we felt this retinal camera for the NICU at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital tied perfectly to our club and we are excited to support it,” said Garnet Davis, a Saskatchewan Lions Foundation Director and Canadian Trustee to Lions Clubs International Foundation.

The new retinal imaging system means ophthalmologists no longer have to draw diagrams of their observations, but instead capture high-resolution photos of the baby’s eyes. With cloud-based software, all retinal images will be stored on a secure server, that can be accessed by physicians at any time and from anywhere.

“This is a way of ensuring we provide the best possible care for the small, fragile babies of Saskatchewan,” explained NICU Division Head Dr. Sibasis Daspal. “This camera not only enables us to take pictures of the retina with less discomfort for the babies, but the retinal images can be stored for a second opinion if needed and future references for research purposes.”

Dr. Sibasis Daspal

There are also other possibilities for the portable, lightweight camera to be utilized at the children’s hospital. This includes documenting retinal hemorrhage images in suspected child abuse cases and for measuring optic nerve swelling, which can be helpful when diagnosing increased intracranial pressure in sick newborns or pediatric patients in the intensive care unit. 

“This innovative retinal camera is an incredible addition to the NICU, as it provides Saskatchewan’s most fragile babies with the highest quality of care possible when they are in greatest need,” said Brynn Boback-Lane, President and CEO of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. “Thank you to the Saskatchewan Lions Clubs for making this cutting-edge piece of equipment a reality and for helping improve outcomes for our province’s tiniest patients. Your support is truly helping give the gift of sight to the most vulnerable newborns.”

The 44-bassinet NICU is located on the top floor of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, with a panoramic view of the South Saskatchewan River. Each baby and family have their own private room, which is dramatically different from what previously existed, where babies were cared for in side-by-side open bays. The private rooms include a sleep space and offer added confidentiality, while allowing parents to be engaged in their newborn’s care.

If you would like to support equipment and enhancements at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, please donate here

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