Preemie Complications

Retinopathy of Prematurity

What is retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)? This complication is abnormal growth of the blood vessels in an infant's eye. The development of blood vessels in the eye is completed just a few weeks before the normal time of delivery. In premature babies this process is not complete.

Is ROP dangerous? ROP can have long-term effects on a baby's vision. Premature infants more frequently need glasses in early childhood than children who were not premature. A baby with ROP is also more likely than most children to develop a "lazy" eye or wandering eye. Severe ROP can lead to blindness.

How is ROP treated? Most cases of ROP don't require any treatment; they resolve on their own. In severe cases, the ends of the vessels in the inner lining of the eye will be treated to prevent further abnormal growth.

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