Retinopathy of prematurity
What is Retinopathy of Prematurity?
It is an eye disease that occurs in premature babies, which causes the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells that lines the back of the eye that helps us see.
Retinopathy of prematurity occurs most often in small babies with very low birth weight or born at an earlier gestational stage (premature).
In some cases, abnormal blood vessels can shrink and disappear without treatment. In other cases, the vessels can continue to develop and serious eye and vision problems could occur, such as:
• Myopia (short vision)
• Retinal detachment
• Strabismus (deviant eyes)
• Glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye)
What are the causes?
It is not known with certainty. The blood vessels in the eye usually end their development in the last weeks before birth. However, premature babies give up protecting the uterus before the blood vessels have had a chance to fully develop.
Babies are exposed to elements such as medications, high levels of oxygen and light, and temperature changes. These factors can interfere with the normal development of the eye's blood vessels and cause retinopathy of prematurity.
Other factors that can affect the development of the condition include:
• Low birth weight
• Use of supplemental oxygen after birth
• Vitamin E deficiency
• Respiratory complications
How is it treated?
Initially, the ophthalmologist can monitor retinopathy, which can go away on its own. If the growth of abnormal blood vessels continues, the baby's eyes should be treated.
The ophthalmologist can choose one or more of the following options to treat ROP:
• Laser treatment
• Intraocular injections of medications