Retinopathy of prematurity or ROP for Short is an eye disorder caused by abnormal blood vessel growth in the light sensitive part of the eyes (retina) of premature babies, born 37 weeks early and weighing less than 3 lbs. This is why it is imparative that any child born before 32 weeks should be checked for Retinopathy of Prematurity. In most cases ROP will be resovled with no treamment and cause no long term damage. Although, there are severe cases that can cause permanent vision damage and permanent blindness. It is critical that when a baby has retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) early intervention with a vision specialist should begin as soon as possible to help prevent permanent vision loss.
ROP happens when a newborn’s retinas don’t fully develop. The retina is the nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye. When children are born early, the blood vessels that feed the retina usually haven’t finished growing. ROP occurs when these vessels actually stop growing for a time, then begin growing abnormally and randomly. The new vessels are fragile and can leak, leaving the retina scarred.
Signs & symptoms included:
- White pupils, these are called leukocoria.
- Abnormal eye movements, docotors reffer to this as nystagmus.
- Crossed eyes, medically described as strabismus.
- Severe nearsightedness, which is called myopia.
Retinopathy of prematurity treament depends on the intensity of the damage and the seriousness on of the symtoms, treament could be one or all of the following:
Laser Therapy: This is the gold standard ofr treating ROP, it burns away the abnormal/damanged areas around the retina that do not have normal blood vessels.
Cryotheraphy: This was one of the orginal treatments for ROP and it’s seldomnly used now, but it uses an instrument to freeze a specific part of the eye that extends beyond the edges of the retina
Medication: This is an on-going treatment through prescribed medications that consist of anti-vascular endothelial growth drugs or Anti-VEGF Drugs for short. These Retinopathy of prematurity drugs work by blocking the overgrowth of blood vessels in the retina.
Early Intervention Is Critical and Here’s Why
Young children who are blind, visually impaired or have multiple disabilities increase their visual functioning, sensory awareness, communication and social skills in our early intervention program. Also, our services improve children’s physical, cognitive and emotional development. We help families become successful advocates for their children’s education and care. Children ages birth to 3 receive home visits. Children ages 4 to 6 participate in quarterly events. Our early intervention specialists collaborate with family members, medical professionals, caregivers and teachers.
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