RETINOPATHY OF PREMATURITY (ROP)
This is a disease process which affects the normal development of blood vessels in the retina- nerve layer of the eye especially in children born pre- maturely. The most common factor indicated is the oxygen given for life support of these premature babies and there are other causes too. These children are examined in the ICU or in the clinic at one month of age after birth. Dilated examination of retina is mandatory in all premature babies. Depending on the stage of the disease, the Retina surgeon will advise for Laser treatment or injection into the eye. Surgery is the only option in advanced stages.
As the disease progresses rapidly, timing of examination and treatment is very crucial to prevent blindness. Although majority of babies diagnosed with early stage of disease resolve completely, there are many known sequelae of this disease which needs to be detected by regular follow-up. The ROP babies can develop refractive error, glaucoma, squint in later age. As this is a teamwork between Paediatricians, eye doctors and parents, the parents need to understand the seriousness of the disease and follow the instructions carefully.