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Oklahoma clinical trial to test early detection technique for eye disease in premature infants

A new clinical trial at The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center will focus on ways to catch a debilitating eye disease before it's too late.

The unique study will look at a disease known as ROP Retinopathy of Prematurity that can affect infants born before 32 weeks of gestation. If severe disease is not detected and treated within a few days, the retinopathy can lead to blindness.

"The timing is critical because the window we have to treat the disease is fairly tight. If you miss that window, you may miss your chance to prevent patients from losing their sight," said R. Michael Siatkowski, M.D., a leading researcher in the clinical trial and an ophthalmologist at Dean McGee Eye Institute. "This study will evaluate a new technology aimed at preventing bad outcomes for these children, and can also save $1 million per child, the cost to society for lifetime support of a blind child."

One of the largest barriers to detecting retinopathy in infants is the lack of trained pediatric ophthalmologists outside of medical centers like OU Medical Center. The problem is especially acute in rural areas and third-world countries.

During the clinical trial, nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will learn how to perform a test to detect ROP. The study will compare the effectiveness and results from the technique administered by nurses to the standard exams by ophthalmologists. If researchers find both methods to be similar, it is hoped that by training nurses they will catch more disease in more infants around the state and globally.

"This research again points to the value an academic-based medical center brings to this state, providing Oklahomans access to cutting-edge treatments and care close to

home. It's about advancing care and moving research more quickly from bench to bedside for the benefit of patients across our state and beyond," said Kris Sekar, M.D., medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center.


Contact: Diane Clay
University of Oklahoma

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