Retinopathy of Prematurity - What You Should Know About It

ROP is among the diseases that can impair the vision of children at birth and further down the line if left untreated. This condition can cause loss of sight depending on its severity and can even lead to blindness.


What is Retinopathy of prematurity?

This is a condition, where abnormal blood vessels grow in the eye and eventually can start leaking, which can lead to a partial or complete retinal detachment. This can lead to a severe loss of sight or even blindness, if the condition remains unnoticed.

This is a condition that normally develops in both eyes, however it does not progress at the same pace. The severity of this condition is categorised in 5 different stages. In the first two stages, the condition normally gets better on it's own and no treatment is required.


When it comes to stage 3 Retinopathy of prematurity, the condition could still go away on its own, but it will be a subject of monitoring to determine if a treatment would be necessary or not. In this stage the abnormal blood vessels can start growing toward the center of the eye and complications are possible. Also they are in bigger numbers compared to the previous two. Loss of sight can be experienced, but proper and timely treatment can prevent or reduce the impact from it

Stage 4 of this disease involves a partial detachment of the retina, while stage 5 involves its complete detachment and possible blindness if actions are not taken to treat it.

What causes Retinopathy of prematurity?

Premature birth, with the child being underweight is considered can contribute to the development of such condition. A premature birth can cause a disruption to the normal blood vessels forming around the retina of the eyes of the child.

Retinopathy of prematurity symptoms

Since the effects of this condition occur deep into the eye of the child, when they are at a very young age and unable to alert for it, only a check up by an eye specialist can determine if the child has ROP. From half a year to a year after birth, there is the possibility of Nystagmus developing and is among the most common signs of eye conditions in early childhood.

This, however, is a sign that can signal many other conditions as well. It is generally a good idea to do check ups with specialists if your child has been born prematurely or underweighted.

Treatment for Retinopathy of prematurity

Thankfully this condition does not turn out severe this often, so in most cases treatment is not even necessary. Around 9/10 infants, who had it, recover on their own and the majority of all cases are Stage 1 and 2 of the condition.

When it comes to more severe cases, where treatment needs to be applied, there are efficient methods to do so. In one instance, cryotherapy is an option, which is using freezing in order to deal with the abnormal blood vessels.

Laser therapy is another option, available for the more advanced stages of the condition. In the cases where the condition has the potential to worsen, regular check ups are important, to determine if they would be needed.

For people that have already been affected by the condition, magnifiers, lenses and glasses can prove very helpful. Various other complications that have risen as a result of the condition can be treated, like nystagmus for example.

Retinopathy of prematurity can have serious consequences, so it is important to have regular check ups for your child especially in case their birth was premature.