What is a retinopathy of prematurity?
Retinopathy of prematurity or ROP is a condition found in some premature babies of low birth weight. It is characterized by an abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina. Abnormal blood vessels lead to bleeding, scarring, and leakage which, in severe cases, can cause a retinal detachment leading to blindness.
How is retinopathy of prematurity diagnosed?
Fortunately, most premature infants do not develop ROP and most infants with ROP improve without any surgical intervention. However, the risk of severe visual loss is high enough to warrant screening programs at all newborn intensive care units.
How is retinopathy of prematurity treated?
In less severe cases of retinopathy of prematurity only observation is necessary. In more advanced stages of ROP, the treatment is usually laser surgery. The purpose of the treatment is to eliminate the abnormal vessels before they bleed, leak and prevent scar tissue from producing a retinal detachment. It a retinal detachment forms, intraocular surgery is needed to repair the retina.