Retinopathy of Prematurity

Is Your Child a Victim of Infant Blindness? Our Baltimore Attorneys Can Fight For You

What is Retinopathy of Prematurity?

Retinopathy of Prematurity, otherwise known as ROP, is a preventable disordered that can cause blindness in premature babies. ROP usually affects infants born prior to 30 weeks of gestation because their blood vessels, which develop late in gestation, have not yet formed. When not properly monitored, inadequate blood supply to the retina or abnormal vessel development can cause retinal detachment with resulting blindness.

What Causes Retinopathy of Prematurity?

Retinal blood vessels start to develop three months after conception and complete their development at the time of normal gestation. ROP occurs when eye development is disrupted, commonly because an infant is born prematurely and is outside of the protective environment of the womb. These vessels may grow abnormally, or even stop growing. The vessels are fragile, weak, and may leak, resulting in bleeding in the eye.

Later, scar tissue could develop and pull the retina from the inner surface of the eye. This disconnection can result in vision impairment and loss.

Formerly, premature babies were treated oxygen, but the doses were not accurately monitored. This excess oxygen stimulated abnormal vessel growth. Today, this is a rare occurrence as oxygen can be accurately monitored.

Who is at risk?

Babies who are born younger than 30 weeks gestation or who weigh less than three pounds at birth. Other risks may cause babies who are born after 30 weeks of gestation or weighing more than three pounds to be at risk for ROP. These babies must be timely screened.

What are other risk factors?

  • Apnea
  • Heart disease
  • High carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood
  • Infection
  • Low blood acidity (pH)
  • Low blood oxygen
  • Respiratory distress
  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Transfusions

Stages of ROP:

  • Stage I: There is mildly abnormal blood vessel growth.
  • Stage II: Blood vessel growth is moderately abnormal.
  • Stage III: Blood vessel growth is severely abnormal.
  • Stage IV: Blood vessel growth is severely abnormal and there is a partially detached retina.
  • Stage V: There is a total retinal detachment.

How is Retinopathy of Prematurity Treated?

Early treatment is the key to improve your baby’s chances for normal vision. In most cases, treatment should start within 72 hours of the eye exam.

The goal of treatment is to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels and preserve the central retina (which is the most important part of the retina). To do so, doctors focus treatment on the peripheral retina (the sides of the retina). However, some peripheral (side) vision may be lost.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy involves temporarily freezing part of the retina while it is still immature. It is believed that doing this at a relatively early stage of the disease may possibly halt the abnormal blood vessel growth.

Photocoagulation

Photocoagulation therapy is a method of treating detachments (tears) of the retina with an argon laser. The high-intensity beam of light from the laser is converted into heat, which forces protein molecules in the affected tissue to condense and seal the tear. The purpose of photocoagulation therapy is to reattach a torn or detached portion of the retina and/or prevent further growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina that can cause a detachment.

Vitrectomy
A surgery involving the removal of the clear gel in the center of your baby’s eye and replacing it with a saline solution. This procedure removes the scar tissue, which eases the pull on the retina.

Scleral Buckling
This procedure involves placing a flexible silicone band around the circumference of the eye. The band is placed around the white of the eye (sclera), causing it to buckle (push in). This causes the torn retina to push closer to and remain against the outer wall of the eye.

Injury Investigation


If your child developed retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), then please allow our lawyers to investigate whether your baby’s blindness was caused by a medical mistake.

Our lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for victims of ROP.

  • We have 100+ years
    cumulative experience.

  • All our lawyers know the
    medicine in their specialties.

  • $500 Million in verdicts &
    settlements total.

  • Over $100 Million in verdicts & settlements
    associated with birth injury cases.

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