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ROP – Retinopathy of Prematurity

Retinopathy of Prematurity is a process of abnormal vision due to extreme prematurity. ROP is rarely identified in infants with a birthweight of >1500 grams or >32 weeks gestational age. Compared to fetal oxygen levels, when the baby is born their environment is relatively hypoxic, even if no supplemental oxygen is required. Under conditions of hypoxia, excess blood and oxygen move to the retinal vessels to constrict to the point of obliteration.

ROP can be diagnosed at 32-34 weeks, regardless of the gestational age at the time of delivery, and is classified into five stages. Stage 1: line of tissue between the vascular and avascular retina. Stage 2: line of tissue develops into a rolled ridge of scar tissue. Stage 3: the development of extraretinal blood vessels and fibrous tissue. Stage 4: the retina is partially detached due to scar tissue pulling the retina away. Stage 5: total detachment of the retina.

ROP may regress without treatment at all stages, but vision may still be impaired. Even stage 1 to 3 mild ROP may resolve and leave no scar tissue, but the babies are still at risk for reduced vision. If treatment is required, it will via laser ablation to destroy abnormal retinal tissue, eliminate growth of abnormal blood vessels and hopefully end the progression of scar tissue formation.

If your baby has any form of ROP, they will continue to be followed up through the outpatients department.

The primary aim of PIPA is to provide practical and emotional support to the parents and families of premature infants. However we do not offer professional advice. We are parents of preterm baby’s and not medical staff. We do offer understanding, support, encouragement and friendship.

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