Retinopathy of prematurity

Also known as: ROP
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding disease affecting the retinas in premature infants. The retinas are the light-sensitive linings of the insides of the eyes.

In infants born prematurely, the blood vessels that supply the retinas are not yet completely developed. Although blood vessel growth continues after birth, these vessels may develop in an abnormal, disorganized pattern, known as ROP. In some affected infants, the changes associated with ROP spontaneously subside.

However, in others, ROP may lead to bleeding, scarring of the retina, retinal detachment and visual loss. Even in cases in which ROP changes cease or regress spontaneously, affected children may have an increased risk of certain eye (ocular) abnormalities, including nearsightedness, misalignment of the eyes (strabismus), and/or future retinal detachment. The two major risk factors for ROP are a low birth weight and premature delivery.