Retinopathy of Prematurity – Causes and Treatments
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding condition, affecting premature infants born at less than 1500 gm. and 31 week gestation.
retinopathy of prematurity, rop
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Retinopathy of Prematurity

Caring for the Eyes of Your Child

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding condition of the premature infant. It affects infants born at less than 1500 gm. and 31 week gestation. ROP occurs when abnormal blood vessels in the retina which is the “vision seeing” part of the eye proliferate and cause the retina to detach. This will result in blindness if treatment is not initiated. Even with treatment blindness cannot be prevented in a small percentage of cases. Regular eye exams in at risk infants and treatment when necessary greatly reduces the risk of vision loss. Infants in the neonatal intensive care unit have eye exams at regular intervals to detect for retinopathy and often need eye exams in the clinic following discharge from the hospital.

ROP has different stages, mild disease (stage 1 and 2) and more severe disease stages 3, 4 and 5. The more severe types require treatment. This usually involves laser therapy and occasionally injection into the eye with medication that cause the abnormal blood vessels to shrink and disappear.

ROPPremature infants whether they develop ROP or not require exams as they get older. The reason for this is that premature infants can develop a squint (strabismus), amblyopia or “lazy eye” or need glasses. Early detection of these problems and treatment allows vision to develop in both eyes to its maximal potential.