Retinopathy of Prematurity
When in utero, a baby’s eyes begin to develop at around the sixth week of gestation. At this early stage, the eyes are basically two small bulges protruding from the brain. As the baby develops, the eyes become larger and more complex. However, if a baby is born prematurely, their development is disrupted.
When a baby is born before 32 gestational weeks or weighs less than 3.3 lbs., they are more likely to develop retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) – a potentially blinding condition characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina.
How can retinopathy of prematurity be prevented?
Because the cause of retinopathy of prematurity isn’t fully understood, the best way to prevent retinopathy of prematurity is by focusing on prenatal care so that you reduce the risk of having a premature birth.
Stages of Retinopathy of Prematurity
ROP is a progressive condition that is categorized into five stages:
- Stage I – Mild abnormal blood vessel growth: In stage I ROP, abnormal blood vessel growth is minimal and normal vision may still be possible. Furthermore, this stage, may not require treatment.
- Stage II – Moderate abnormal blood vessel growth: Stage II ROP is similar to stage I, just with more abnormal blood vessel growth. Again, vision may still be normal and the condition may not progress.
- Stage III – Severe abnormal blood vessel growth: In stage III ROP, there are a large number of abnormal blood vessels, many of them located in the center of the eye. At this stage, treatment is often necessary. Normal vision is still possible.
- Stage IV – Partially detached retina: In stage IV ROP, the abnormal blood vessels tug on the retina and pull it away from its position in the eye, causing partial retina detachment.
- Stage V – Fully detached retina: Stage V ROP is characterized by total retinal detachment. This can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.
Retinopathy of Prematurity Symptoms
Early or mild cases of ROP often present with little to no symptoms. Cases of advanced or severe retinopathy of prematurity include symptoms such as:
- Abnormal eye movements
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Extreme nearsightedness
- Leukocoria (whiteness in the pupils)
For more information, please visit the American Society of Retina Specialists website.
Choose Vitreoretinal Consultants of NY for Retinopathy of Prematurity in Queens and Long Island
At Vitreoretinal Consultants of NY, we are dedicated to providing our patients with exceptional retinal care. For us, nothing is as important as your eyesight. Contact us with any questions, or schedule an appointment with VRC today.