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Retinopathy of Prematurity (Children)

Signs & Symptoms

Babies who have severe Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) are at risk of retinal detachment leading to blindness. Even in cases of regressed but severe ROP, babies may encounter visual issues like squint, myopia and astigmatism during childhood.

What causes it

The premature baby's retina and the retinal blood vessels have not yet completed their growth at the time of birth. When exposed to changes in oxygen level after birth, the retinal blood vessels may be stimulated to grow abnormally. This can lead to bleeding in the retina layer of the eye and retinal detachment if not treated.

About the condition

ROP a condition affecting babies with very low birth weight (VLBW).

All infants born before 32 weeks of life will undergo screening by eye specialists. Additionally, more mature premature babies may require screening if their postnatal course is unstable.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Eye checks are performed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before baby's discharge from hospital. Prior to these eye checks, babies received eye drops to dilate the pupils and provide local pain relief. These checks will be conducted periodically during the baby's stay in the NICU. In cases of severe ROP, laser therapy is administered to prevent retinal detachment.

Following discharge from the NICU, an appointment with the eye specialist at the clinic will be scheduled.
Clinical outcome

In our VLBW cohort (2015-2019), the rate of severe ROP is 7.1%, a figure comparable to the Vermont Oxford Network rate of 7.3% in 2015.

Information is correct as of December 2019.

Premature babies are referred to ophthalmologists specialising in paediatrics for ROP screening at designated intervals.

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