ROP

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Description of ROP

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is abnormal blood vessel development in the retina of the eye.


NEI Animation: Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

Causes of ROP

The blood vessels of the retina begin to develop about 3 months into pregnancy. They complete development at the time of normal birth. The eyes may not develop properly if a baby is born very early. The vessels may stop growing or grow abnormally from the retina into the back of the eye. The vessels are fragile. They can leak and cause bleeding in the eye.
Scar tissue may develop and pull the retina loose from the inner surface of the eye. In severe cases, this can result in vision loss.


Detection

Almost all babies who are born before 30 weeks or weigh fewer than 3 pounds at birth are screened for the condition. Some high-risk babies who weigh 3 - 4.5 pounds or who are born after 30 weeks should also be screened.


Treatment

  • Laser therapy (photocoagulation) or cryotherapy (freezing) may be used to prevent complications of advanced ROP.
  • The laser stops the abnormal blood vessels from growing.
  • The treatment can be done in the nursery using portable equipment. To work well, it must be done before the retina develops scarring or detaches from the rest of the eye.


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Support Organizations

Sources

FightingBlindness.ie
LoyolaMedicine.com
National Medical Library