What is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)?
ROP is an eye disorder that primarily affects the retina of premature infants weighing about less than 1500grams. It is one of the most common causes of blindness in children.
What causes ROP?
ROP occurs when the periphery of the retina is unhealthy and develop growth factors that encourage abnormal development of blood vessels. When new abnormal blood vessels grow, they bleed and form scars within the vitreous and can cause bleeding and retinal detachment.
What are the different stages of ROP?
ROP is classified in five stages:
- Stage I — Mildly abnormal development of blood vessel;
- Stage II — Moderately abnormal development of blood vessel;
- Stage III — Severely abnormal development of blood vessel;
- Stage IV — Part of the retina becomes detached; and
- Stage V — The entire retina becomes detached.
What other eye problems usually occur in a baby with ROP?
A baby with ROP has a higher chance of developing Retinal Detachment, Myopia, Squint and Lazy Eye.
What are the available treatments for ROP?
No treatment is required for early stages of ROP but it needs to checked and followed up regularly by your eye doctor. More advanced stages of ROP require treatment such as injection of medication into the eyeball, laser treatment or surgery.
Medication is injected into the eyeball to make the blood vessel grow more normally to the periphery of retina.
Laser therapy destroys the periphery of the retina where there are no normal blood vessels, thereby preventing slowing or reversing the abnormal growth of blood vessels.
Surgery for ROP is usually done by vitrectomy, a form of keyhole surgery that uses small probes to enter the eye to remove the abnormal vitreous (jelly-like substance within the eyeball) and scar. The abnormal vitreous and scar contribute to the retina detachment.
You should discuss the appropriate treatment with your eye doctor.
[NOTE: This FAQ contains general information about medical conditions and its treatment. The information is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor. If you have any medical problem, you should consult a doctor.]