Pediatric Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

Pediatric Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

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Summary

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a condition that causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina of premature babies.

Expanded overview

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a condition that affects premature infants (birth to 1 year*). It causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina, which may cause a detached retina and can lead to blindness.

The retina is a layer of nerves in the eye that is responsible for vision. In premature infants, the blood vessels that feed the retina have not finished growing when the child is born. Once born, the vessels begin growing again, but the prior, abnormal growth causes the vessels to be fragile. This may lead to scarring of the retina, or even a torn or detached retina, which can lead to blindness.

Causes

The most common risk factors for ROP include:

  • Anemia
  • Birth before 30 weeks’ gestation
  • Birth weight of fewer than four pounds
  • Heart disease
  • Infection
  • Occurs in higher frequency with caucasian children

Symptoms

The symptoms of ROP are not visible to the naked eye. An ophthalmologist can view the symptoms by using special tools to examine the infant’s retina. Your baby’s eyes will be screened after birth.

Some symptoms that may be noticeable in severe cases of ROP include:

*Age of infants as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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