What is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)?
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding disease caused by abnormal development of retinal blood vessels in infants who are born before time (premature). It is more likely in infants with low birth weight that are born before 34 weeks of gestation (a full-term pregnancy has a gestation of 38–42 weeks).
What is the cause of ROP?
During pregnancy, blood vessels grow from the center of a developing baby's retina, and then branch outward and reach the edges of the retina when the baby is full term. In babies born early, normal retinal vessel growth may be disrupted and abnormal vessels can develop. These abnormal blood vessels are fragile and can leak, scarring the retina and pulling it out of position. This causes a retinal detachment. Retinal detachment is the main cause of visual impairment and blindness in ROP.
Who is at risk?
Birth weight and gestational age are the most important risk factors for development of severe ROP. Other factors that are associated with the presence of ROP include anemia, poor weight gain, blood transfusion, respiratory distress, breathing difficulties and the overall health of the infant.
Close monitoring has decreased the impact of oxygen use as a risk factor for development of ROP. Light levels do not affect severity of ROP.
All infants with the following criteria need to be screened for ROP:
• All infants born at 34 weeks or less gestational age
• All infants weighing 2000 g or less at birth
• All infants born at more than 34 weeks gestational age with associated risk factors (prolonged oxygen requirement, respiratory distress syndrome, fetal hemorrhage, blood transfusion, sepsis, interventricular hemorrhage, poor post-natal weight gain)
• Other preterm infants based on the discretion of the pediatrician or neonatologist.
How do u diagnose ROP?
Eye specialists who are skilled in the evaluation of infant’s retina by indirect ophthalmoscopy make the diagnosis of ROP. They examine the eyes after the pupils are dilated with drops.
How is ROP treated?
Some cases of ROP are mild and correct themselves. But others progress to scarring, pulling the retina away from the rest of the eye. These cases need treatment to prevent vision loss or blindness.
The treatment may be in form of laser, injection and surgery.
Laser - Treatment focuses on the peripheral retina (the sides of the retina) to preserve the central retina (the most important part of the retina). Small laser beams are used to scar the peripheral retina to try to stop abnormal blood vessel growth.
Injection - A medicine (Anti- VEGF) is injected into the eye. This might be done as an alternative to, or along with, laser surgery. This is a newer treatment and results are promising, often allowing the blood vessels to grow more normally.
Surgery - Done for advanced cases of ROP with retinal detachment. These are done under general anaesthesia.
The goal of ROP treatment is to stop the progression of the disease and prevent blindness. ROP treatment has a good success rate, but not all babies respond to treatment. Up to 25% of babies who have ROP treatment might still lose some or all vision.
Synergy Eye Care is well equipped and its doctors are well experienced in treating this disease using required procedures and /or surgeries with good results.
Disclaimer: Information published here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice. If you suspect that you have a health problem, please consult your doctor immediately