How is retinopathy of prematurity treated?

How is retinopathy of prematurity treated?

28 July 2022

Retinopathy of prematurity is an eye disease that causes the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells that lines the back of the eye and helps us see. In some countries it accounts for up to 10% of cases of childhood blindness, with higher prevalence in Southeast Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

Retinopathy of prematurity occurs more frequently in babies with a very low birth weight or born at an earlier gestational stage.

In some cases, the abnormal blood vessels may shrink in size and disappear without treatment. In other cases, the vessels may continue to develop and serious vision problems such as nearsightedness, retinal detachment, strabismus, glaucoma and vision loss or blindness may occur.

Retinopathy of prematurity should be evaluated in premature infants as early as one month after birth. An ophthalmologist can diagnose ROP during an eye exam in which dilating drops and anesthetic drops are applied. An eyelid retractor is used to better evaluate the fundus. This examination is not painful.

At first, the ophthalmologist may monitor the retinopathy of prematurity to see if it goes away on its own. If the abnormal blood vessel growth continues, the infant's eyes will need to be treated.

The ophthalmologist may choose one or more of the following options to treat this condition.

  • Injections of medication into the eye
  • Laser treatment
  • Intravitreal surgery
  • As babies with retinopathy of prematurity grow older, the ophthalmologist should check them regularly to rule out vision problems.

At the Espaillat Cabral Institute, we have specialists to treat these cases: pediatric ophthalmologists. Make your appointment online.

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