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Retinopathy of Prematurity

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Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) affects babies born prematurely or at a low birth weight. Typically, premature babies are born before the blood supply to their retina is fully developed. (The retina senses light and sends images to the brain.) As their eyes grow new blood vessels, these vessels bleed and grow into parts of the eye where they don’t belong. This causes scar tissue inside the eyes. Without treatment, these infants can experience retinal detachment, loss of vision, and eventually, blindness.

Newborns with ROP only develop symptoms after the disease has become severe or progressed to retinal detachment. That’s why early eye exams are important to protecting your newborn's vision. Babies with this condition need lifelong follow-up, even if they didn’t require treatment.

When Should You Take Your Baby to a Doctor?

Babies born at 28 weeks or earlier or weighing less than three pounds, five ounces at birth are at risk for this disease. To prevent vision loss, have your baby examined by an eye doctor four to six weeks after birth.

As one of the only eye centers in the country with ophthalmologists specializing in pediatric eye health, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, has the expertise to treat ROP. Our ophthalmologists examine premature infants during and after their time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to protect their eyesight.

Tests

Comprehensive Screening Exam - A complete eye exam, done four to six weeks after birth, is the best way to protect your baby’s sight. To ensure timely diagnosis, our pediatric eye doctors examine your newborn during and after their time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) - This imaging test creates a cross-sectional, three-dimensional (3-D) view of the inside of your baby’s eyes.

Ultrasound - This safe, painless test uses high-frequency sound waves to produce detailed images of your baby’s eyes and allows the physician to examine the eye socket.

Treatments

Laser Therapy - To protect your baby’s eyesight, your doctor may perform laser therapy.

Injections - Another method of treating this disease is injecting medicine into the eye to prevent abnormal blood vessels from forming. Before treatment, the eye care professional puts numbing drops into the infant’s eyes.

Because more and more low birth weight babies are surviving due to medical advances, ROP is the leading cause of childhood blindness.

Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?

The Nation’s Top Eye Hospital. Ranked the country’s #1 eye hospital, we provide your baby with the highest level of specialized care.

Leading Eye Experts. We recruit and retain the best and brightest pediatric ophthalmologists. This gives your baby an added advantage in overcoming ROP and maintaining good vision for life.

Compassionate, Family-Centered Care. Parents of premature or low birth weight babies face multiple challenges. Our expertise, combined with our compassionate, family-centered care, provides comfort and confidence when you need it most.

Skilled Pediatric Specialists. Working together with community neonatologists and ophthalmologists, Bascom Palmer’s research studies led the way to a new understanding of ROP and identifying babies at risk for this condition.

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