Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

Ophthalmology Services

What is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)?

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a condition that affects babies who are born prematurely or with low birth weight.

Within the eye, the retina detects light and communicates images to the brain. However, this is hampered in premature babies as they are typically born before their retinal veins are not fully grown and thus affecting the required blood supply.

As their eyes develop new blood vessels, these veins bleed and grow into areas of the eye where they are not supposed to be. This results in scar tissue within the eyes. Without treatment, these infants are at risk of developing retinal detachment, visual loss, and, eventually, blindness.

ROP symptoms do not appear in newborns until the condition has progressed to the point of retinal detachment. That is why early eye exams are critical for protecting your newborn's vision. Even if no treatment is required, babies with this disease require lifetime monitoring.

Babies born at 32 weeks or less, or weighing less than 1.5 kilograms, are at risk for this condition. Should your baby be born with these criteria, have your baby evaluated by an eye doctor four to six weeks after birth to prevent vision loss.

What is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)?

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a condition that affects babies who are born prematurely or with low birth weight.

Within the eye, the retina detects light and communicates images to the brain. However, this is hampered in premature babies as they are typically born before their retinal veins are not fully grown and thus affecting the required blood supply.

As their eyes develop new blood vessels, these veins bleed and grow into areas of the eye where they are not supposed to be. This results in scar tissue within the eyes. Without treatment, these infants are at risk of developing retinal detachment, visual loss, and, eventually, blindness.

ROP symptoms do not appear in newborns until the condition has progressed to the point of retinal detachment. That is why early eye exams are critical for protecting your newborn's vision. Even if no treatment is required, babies with this disease require lifetime monitoring.

Babies born at 32 weeks or less, or weighing less than 1.5 kilograms, are at risk for this condition. Should your baby be born with these criteria, have your baby evaluated by an eye doctor four to six weeks after birth to prevent vision loss.

Stages of ROP

  • Stage I – Blood vessel development is mildly abnormal. Many children with Stage I vision heal without treatment and eventually develop normal vision. The condition resolves on its own and does not proceed any further.
  • Stage II – Blood vessel development that is moderately abnormal. Many children with stage II improve without treatment and eventually achieve normal eyesight. Without further development, the disease resolves on its own.
  • Stage III – Significantly abnormal blood vessel development. Instead of following the usual growth pattern along the surface of the retina, the abnormal blood vessels grow toward the centre of the eye. Some babies with Stage III improve without treatment and eventually achieve normal eyesight. However, when children reach a specific stage of Stage III and have "plus disease," treatment will be considered. The term "plus disease" refers to the fact that the blood vessels in the retina have gotten larger and twisted, suggesting that the disease has progressed. At this point, treatment offers a good probability of preventing retinal detachment.
  • Stage IV — Partial retinal detachment. Traction from the scar formed by bleeding, abnormal vessels pull the retina away from the wall of the eye.
  • Stage V – Completely detached retina and the last stage of the disease. If the eye is left alone at this stage, the newborn may suffer from significant visual impairment and perhaps blindness.

Tests and Treatments

There are several tests that your child might need to go through before a diagnosis can be made. Tests include:

  • Comprehensive screening exam – A comprehensive eye check-up four to six weeks after delivery is the most effective approach to protect your baby's vision. Our paediatric eye physicians check your newborn during and after their stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to ensure timely diagnosis.
  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) – This imaging procedure produces a cross-sectional, three-dimensional (3D) image of the inside of your baby's eyes.
  • Ultrasound – This non-invasive, painless test uses high-frequency sound waves to create detailed images of your baby's eyes, allowing the doctor to check the eye socket.

When it comes to treatments, laser therapy and cryotherapy are the most effective ROP therapies. The retina's periphery, which lacks normal blood vessels, is "burned away" by laser therapy. Cryotherapy involves physicians momentarily touching regions on the eye's surface that overlie the periphery of the retina using a device that generates freezing temperatures.

Both laser treatment and cryotherapy destroy the retina's peripheral areas, delaying or reversing abnormal blood vessel growth. Unfortunately, the treatments may also damage some peripheral vision. This is done to protect the most critical aspect of our vision: the sharp, central vision required for "straight-ahead" tasks like reading, sewing and driving.

At Eyecentric by SJMC, our highly trained experts include some of Malaysia's best ophthalmologists, who provide cutting-edge care through first-rate clinical practice and innovative medical diagnostics will be here to help you throughout the time. Our team of highly skilled eye surgeons also provides a variety of procedures, ranging from cataract surgery to the treatment of retinal problems such as retinal detachment and macular degeneration.

Meet our Specialist

Dr Ronald Arun Das

Designation
Consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreo Retinal Surgeon
Specialty
Ophthalmology






Dr V. Ulagantheran Viswanathan

Designation
Consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreo Retinal Surgeon
Specialty
Ophthalmology