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Toddler Leads Vision-Loss Fundraiser To Raise ROP Awareness

A 2-year-old girl and her father kicked off a vision-loss awareness relay race last week. The girl, nicknamed "Mighty Morgan" has already had 14 surgeries to try to repair her vision after she was born four months early. While still in neonatal intensive care, the girl began developing symptoms of retinopathy of prematurity.

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a leading cause of blindness and severe vision impairment in premature infants. ROP occurs when blood vessels grow towards the center of an eye instead of spreading along the retinal bed. Although diligent and careful doctors can spot signs of ROP early enough to take corrective action, ROP can rapidly lead to vision loss and complete blindness. The disorder affects 14,000 - 16,000 newborns every year, leaving many of them legally blind.

In the case of this little girl, it is unclear whether prompt action could have saved her vision. The girl and her twin sister were born after only five months of gestation. While the twin did not survive, this girl fought for life, earning her "Mighty" nickname. During her five month stay in neonatal intensive care, doctors eventually discovered ROP signs. It was apparently too late to prevent the disease from claiming her eyesight, however, and numerous surgeries with leading surgeons were unable to reverse the damage.

To kick off a vision loss fundraising relay, the girl rode on the back of a tandem bike with her father. The race, Light House International's Double Up 4 Vision, features tandem bike riders who race for 24 hours through five New York boroughs. A sighted "pilot" drives each tandem bike while a blind "stoker" pedals behind.

Source: New York Daily News, "Riverdale tot 'Mighty Morgan' to help kick off the annual Lighthouse International fundraiser for vision loss," Tanyanika Samuels, Oct. 11, 2012

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