Retinopathy of prematurity

Alternative Names

Retrolental fibroplasia; ROP

Definition of Retinopathy of prematurity

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is abnormal blood vessel development in the retina of the eye in a .

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The blood vessels of the retina begin to develop 3 months after conception and complete their development at the time of normal birth. If an infant is born very prematurely, eye development can be disrupted. The vessels may stop growing or grow abnormally from the retina into the normally clear gel that fills the back of the eye. The vessels are fragile and can leak, causing bleeding in the eye.

Symptoms

There are 5 stages of ROP.

Signs and tests

High-risk infants and those younger than 30 weeks gestation or born weighing fewer than 3 lbs should have retinal exams.

Treatment

Early treatment has been shown to improve a baby’s chances for normal vision. Treatment should start within 72 hours of the eye exam.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most premature infants with ROP recover with no lasting visual problems. Many premature infants with slight problems in retinal blood vessel growth have the vessels return to normal without treatment. Most infants with mild ROP can be expected to recover completely.

Review

Paul B. Griggs, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 4/13/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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