Retinopathy of prematurity, also called ROP, is a disease found in premature infants that is caused by abnormal development of the retina blood vessels. Most babies affected by ROP retain their vision. However, in severe cases the condition causes the retina to detach from the wall of the eye, leading to blindness.

A pediatric ophthalmologist diagnoses ROP by administering a dilated exam. Most premature infants are automatically examined for ROP. It is extremely important that premature infants are monitored for ROP even after discharge from the hospital, as the condition is not always evident immediately after birth.

ROP has varying levels of severity. At its most severe, the potential for retinal detachment – and blindness – becomes great enough to warrant laser treatment. The outcome of laser treatment is usually favorable, reducing or eliminating the condition. However, sometimes ROP continues to worsen. In these cases, vision can be impaired or lost entirely.

ROP also can cause other vision abnormalities. It is a risk factor for amblyopia (lazy eye), eye misalignment (strabismus), general refractive errors and other eye issues. Continuing consultation with a pediatric ophthalmologist is recommended to ensure these issues are caught early and given timely treatment.

Source: American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus

Children’s Eye Care provides this information for general educational purposes only. It should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published on this website is not intended to replace, supplant, or augment a consultation with an eye care professional. Children’s Eye Care disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this site.