Retinopathy of Prematurity
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is an eye disease in some premature babies born before 31 weeks. It is a problem that affects the tissue at the back of the eye called the retina. With ROP, unwanted blood vessels grow in the baby’s retina. The blood vessels can cause serious eye and vision problems later.
Doctors do not know for sure what causes ROP. Blood vessels in the eyes normally finish developing a few weeks before birth. Medicine, oxygen, bright lights, or temperature changes might affect how eye’s blood vessels develop.
How is ROP Diagnosed?
Shortly after birth, all premature babies should be checked for ROP. An ophthalmologist can examine the infant’s eyes while they are in the hospital. However, ROP might not be apparent until several weeks after birth. Therefore, premature babies at risk for ROP should be examined again 4 to 6 weeks after birth.
An ophthalmologist may treat the abnormal blood vessels with laser treatment, freezing treatment (cryotherapy), and/or medicatied eye injections.
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