Specialized test helping premature babies keep their eyesight

Many premature infants are at risk for losing their eyesight, because of a vision disorder few parents know about.

At Mesa's Cardon Children's Medical Center, doctors are now performing a specialized test to screen for the disorder, before its to late.

Two parents, Jaime Paniagua and Heather Halsey, are very thankful their baby boy, Kane, can see fine.

"He sees perfectly fine," said Paniagua. "He looks at his mama all the time."

If it weren't for a retinal imaging test performed at the medical center, that might not be the case. Kane, who was born nearly 16 weeks premature, was at a high risk for developing ROP, or Retinopathy of Prematurity. The disorder affects thousands of premature babies every year.

"That is when the vessels grow abnormally, and they can create some scar tissue on the retina, and it can cause the retina to detach," said Edyta Lytle, the ROP Clinical Program Manager at Banner. "We are tying to catch that early."

They catch it earl,y using traditional eye exams along with a high-tech retina camera.

"A device that allows us to look at the back of the baby's eye called the retina, and we can look at the vessels that are forming and watch them grow, and to make sure if they're growing normally," said Lytle.

If the tests do come back abnormal, laser surgery is needed, like in Kane's case. Kane's parents said although there's still follow up exams, at the end of the day, Kane's eyesight is worth it.

"The Pulse of the City Soiree: A Night for Sight"
Dec. 2, 6pm - 10:30pm
Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia
4949 E. Lincoln Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85253
Tickets: give.bannerhealth.com/pulse
Benefits infant vision testing & treatment at Banner Health