What is Retinopathy of Prematurity?

Retinopathy of Prematurity is an eye condition caused by the incomplete growth of the eye blood vessels in premature babies. These vessels will still grow after the baby is born, but they may not grow normally. Without treatment, this growth can pull the retina away from the blood vessels at the back of the eye. This causes blindness.

Risk Factors:

Any premature baby is at risk for retinopathy of prematurity and must be screened

Screening & Retinal Examinations:

Who?

  • Babies weighing less than 1750 grams
  • Babies born before 34 weeks of pregnancy
  • Premature babies born with severe illness (sepsis, respiratory distress syndrome, etc.)

When?

  • Babies with low weight (less than 1200 grams) or born before 28 weeks should get checked 2-3 weeks after birth.
  • All other premature babies should complete the exam within the first month after birth.

How?

  • A retina specialist trained to examine new born babies, will do an examination to check the health of your baby’s retina.

Your baby may be treated using Lasers, Intravitreal Injections, or Vitrectomy Surgery.  The treatment used will depend on how severe the condition is. Mild forms of the disease may get better on their own.  All premature babies should get their eyes checked once a year, even if they don’t have the disease.