Retinopathy of Prematurity
The diagnosis and treatment of childhood retinal diseases is at the heart of Wagner Macula & Retina Center. Dr. Alan Wagner developed the Pediatric Retina & Macula Program with emphasis on Retinopathy of Prematurity Program at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters Health System.
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is the abnormal blood vessel development in the retina of the eye in a premature infant. The blood vessels of the retina begin to develop three months after conception and complete their development at the time of normal birth. If an infant is born very prematurely, normal eye development can be disrupted. The vessels may stop growing or grow abnormally from the retina into the normally clear gel that fills the back of the eye. The vessels are fragile and can leak, causing bleeding in the eye. Scar tissue may develop and pull the retina loose from the inner surface of the eye. In severe cases, this can result in vision loss.
Today, the risk of developing ROP depends in large part on the degree of prematurity. Generally, the smallest and sickest premature babies have the highest risk. Typically all babies younger than 30 weeks gestation or weighing fewer than 3 pounds at birth are screened for the condition. Certain high-risk babies who weigh 3 – 4.5 pounds or who are born after 30 weeks should also be screened.