RETINOPATHY OF PREMATURITY (ROP)

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a sight-threatening disorder that affects premature infants who are born before 32 weeks of gestation or with a birth weight of less than 1500 grams (1). ROP occurs in the developing retina of the premature baby, resulting in progressive changes in the structure of the retina that may eventually lead to blindness (1). It is estimated that ROP affects approximately 14,000 to 16,000 infants in the United States each year (2).

ROP occurs in premature infants due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients to the developing retina (3). This lack of oxygen and nutrients causes the growth of abnormal blood vessels, which can cause scarring, retinal detachment, and vision loss (3). Risk factors for developing ROP include low birth weight, gestational age, and the need for supplemental oxygen or other medical interventions (2).

Early detection of ROP is essential for the best possible outcome. ROP is usually detected during an ophthalmologic examination, which typically occurs between weeks 32 and 36 of gestation (4). During this examination, the ophthalmologist looks for signs of abnormal blood vessel growth, such as thinning of the retina, macular folds, and fibrous tissue (4). If ROP is detected early, the ophthalmologist may be able to treat it with laser therapy or cryotherapy (4).

ROP can have a devastating effect on a child’s vision and quality of life. Fortunately, early detection and treatment of ROP can prevent or minimize the effects of the disease (4). Therefore, it is important for parents and medical professionals to be aware of the signs and symptoms of ROP and to seek medical attention if they are suspected.

References
1. Pappas, A., & Ells, A. (2010). Retinopathy of prematurity. BMJ Clinical Evidence, 2010(2).
2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2011). Retinopathy of prematurity. Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/rop-retinopathy-of-prematurity
3. Global ROP. (2018). What is retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)? Retrieved from https://globalrop.org/about-rop/what-is-rop/
4. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. (n.d.). Retinopathy of prematurity. Retrieved from https://www.aapos.org/terms/conditions/141

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