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Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

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Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is an eye problem that often occurs in preterm infants.

At about the 4th month (16th week) of development, blood vessels begin to grow in the retina of a fetus’ eye. By the 40th week of development, the growth of new blood vessels is fairly complete.

When a baby is born before the 32nd week of development, normal growth of the blood vessels may stop for a period of time. When growth restarts, the blood vessels may grow normally or abnormally. Abnormal growth is called ROP.

A pediatric ophthalmologist (eye doctor for children) will check your baby’s eyes when he/she is about 4 weeks old. The ophthalmologist will be able to see if your baby has or is developing ROP and how severe the problem is. Eye examinations will be scheduled to track the growth and development of the blood vessels in the retina until they are fully grown. ROP may develop any time during the course of growth and development of the retinal blood vessels. It can occur in one or both eyes.

If your baby has ROP, an ophthalmologist will check the baby’s eyes every 1-3 weeks. ROP may improve, stay the same, or progress to more severe stages which could lead to vision problems or blindness. Treatment is indicated if a certain level of ROP is reached. The ophthalmologist will talk to you if treatment is needed.


Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 05/2018

(757) 668-7000