Retinopathy Of Prematurity

Sasha Mansukhani
(MS – Ophthal)
Speciality Medical Officer, Kamathipura Eye Hospital, Mumbai

First Created: 11/05/2014  Last Updated: 08/01/2015

Patient Education

How does a child normally see?

The eye has the following parts- cornea, lens, and retina. The light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. The retina carries light information to the brain through the optic nerve.


What is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)?

It is a disorder that can affect premature and low birth weight babies. The normal development of the eye is interrupted resulting in abnormal vessels growing in the retina. It can lead to blindness.

What causes ROP?

The structure that lines the back of the eye is called the retina. It helps us to see. In the premature baby, the vessels may not develop properly. Sometimes abnormal vessels can grow, which may leak causing bleeding in the eye. Also, these abnormal vessels may shrink pulling the retina off from its normal position. Thus there is poor vision.

When should preterm babies have an eye examination to rule out ROP?

Preterm babies born after 28 weeks of pregnancy should get checked at around 30 days after delivery. Preterm babies born before 28 weeks of pregnancy should be checked at around 20 days after delivery.

Can ROP be treated?

In ROP which is progressing, laser treatment can be given to halt the progression of the disease. The laser procedure can be done under local eye drops, and the procedure takes around 30-45 minutes for each eye. It may be required to repeat the laser one or two times more.

In a very advanced disease where the retina has shifted from its normal position, surgery might be required in order to reattach it.

Are there any side effects of laser treatment?

The laser gave burns the abnormal retina, where the normal vessels have not developed. In doing that some amount of side vision is lost. However, this is done to ensure that the central vision, which is more important for day to day activities, remains clear.

How important is it to have repeated follow ups?

Till the eye matures completely, the baby is not out of the risk period for retinopathy of prematurity. Your eye doctor will require to examine the baby, every 1-2 weekly or even more often till the vessels have grown properly. If laser treatment has been given, the eye is checked for a response to treatment.

These follow-ups are very important and are necessary to ensure good vision to the baby.

What are the complications of ROP?

Babies with ROP have a greater chance for developing glasses (short-sightedness), squint (cross- eyes), cataracts, amblyopia (lazy eye), and glaucoma (high eye pressure). The care of the child involves routine ophthalmic checkups to check for changes in the spectacle number amongst other things.

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