Babies born prematurely face a wide range of potential health challenges including retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). At ABC Children’s Eye Specialists in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, the team of pediatric ophthalmologists and optometrists diagnose ROP and offer customized services to protect your child’s vision. Call or schedule a consultation online today.
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a condition where your baby’s retina and its blood vessels haven’t developed correctly, which can lead to blindness. The retina is the part of the inner eye that receives light and transmits it into the visual messages that are sent to the brain. If the blood vessels that feed the retina or the retina itself develop abnormally, the visual signals are distorted or even prevented from reaching the brain, resulting in blindness.
In many cases, ROP is mild and resolves without damaging the retina, although when it’s severe, it can lead to retinal detachment.
You may not notice that your baby shows signs of ROP. Infants’ eyes aren’t very sensitive to light for the first month of life and may not appear to focus or work together during the first couple of weeks. However, if you notice any lasting misalignment of their eyes, abnormal eye movements, or if their pupils look white, call ABC Children’s Eye Specialists right away.
Your baby’s retinas develop while they’re in the womb, but if your baby is born prematurely, their retinas may not be fully developed. ROP is most common in infants born 12 weeks premature as their blood vessels and retina may develop abnormally after birth.
The most critical risk factors for ROP are birth weight and gestational age. However, if your baby has other issues such as anemia, poor weight gain, or respiratory distress, their risk of ROP increases.
If your baby is born prematurely, you should schedule an eye exam with one of the expert pediatric ophthalmologists at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists to check their overall eye health and development. As with many other health conditions, early diagnosis is essential to correcting ROP and protecting your child’s sight.
Your ophthalmologist dilates your baby’s eyes with drops to get a clear view of the insides of their eyes and their retinas. If your baby shows only mild signs of ROP, your ophthalmologist will schedule a series of appointments to monitor their retinal development and vision.
However, if the ROP is severe, your ophthalmologist will discuss the treatment options. Two of the treatment options for ROP are laser ablation eye surgery and medication. Both laser ablation and medication eliminate the abnormal blood vessels, which should stimulate healthy retinal development.
Call ABC Children’s Eye Specialists or schedule a consultation online to monitor your infant’s eye health and development.