Sight-saving treatment to be available for retinopathy of prematurity

The drug, ranibizumab, will be available as an alternative to laser treatment for some forms of retinopathy of prematurity

A baby’s hand grips the finger of an adult

A drug routinely used in patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) will be offered to babies with some forms of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in the UK.

Ranibizumab will be offered to patients with severe ROP following the publication of new national NHS guidance.

Some premature babies are too unwell for laser treatment – which is the current standard of care and can result in scarring on the retina.

Ranibizumab is administered by injection and does not carry the same risk of scarring.

Health Minister Neil O’Brien emphasised that no baby should experience avoidable sight loss.

“Parents should be confident that conditions like this in their children can be both detected and prevented at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

“That’s why this potentially life-changing treatment is being rolled out – to improve the futures and outcomes of babies and their families nationwide,” he shared.

O’Brien emphasised that the Government is committed to eliminating avoidable blindness.

He said that a National Clinical Director for Eye Care has been appointed who will help to make sure patients get the eye care they need. The Government is investing in the ophthalmology workforce, O’Brien added.