The West Virginia University Eye Institute now has a new tool to help infants and children with vision problems. A miniature camera, called a RetCam, takes pictures of the retinas of infants and children for viewing on a computer screen. The purchase of the retinal camera was made possible by a recent donation of $60,000 from Bill and Erna Atkinson.

The RetCam greatly enhances the ability of the Eye Institute to treat eye problems such as retinopathy of prematurity, a potentially blinding disorder affecting premature babies, and trauma to the eye caused by child abuse.

“We are so honored and thankful for Bill and Erna’s gift,” Judie Charlton, M.D., chair of the WVU Department of Ophthalmology, said. “The RetCam allows us to deliver more advanced care to babies and children. WVU is the only place in the state that treats retinopathy of prematurity.”

The Atkinsons grew up in West Virginia and recently returned to the state. They were eager to support vision care for children. “Dr. Charlton showed us the eye problems of preemies and that sort of got to us. We just wanted to help the children,” Bill Atkinson said.

As the only center for pediatric vision care in West Virginia, the WVU Eye Institute plays a critical role in providing specialized vision care for babies and children from all 55 counties of the state, as well as neighboring states.

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Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087