Growth of blood vessels in the eye is not complete until a baby is term.
Retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP, is caused when abnormal blood vessels form in a premature baby’s eye(s). The vessels can lead to bleeding inside the eye and even retinal detachment. The baby’s eyes will be checked often for any changes. It is important to keep eye appointments, as abnormal vessels can form quickly.
Treatments depend on the child’s condition, and may include laser, injections in the eye or surgery to repair the retinal detachment.
Zones of ROP
Stages of ROP
- Stage 1: Demarcation Line
Line that separates the area where there are normal blood vessels and where there are no normal blood vessels yet
- Stage 2: Ridge
The ridge arises from the demarcation line and has height and width
- Stage 3: Abnormal blood vessel growth
- Stage 4: Partial Retinal Detachment
- Stage 5: Total Retinal Detachment
Here is what you can expect to happen during the eye exam of your baby
- Your baby will have special eye drops to make the pupils bigger to allow the doctor to check the retina/back of the eye. The drops take an hour to work, sometimes longer.
- Since your baby needs to be very still when her eyes are checked, she will be wrapped in a blanket and held down gently.
- The doctor will check the retina using an instrument with a bright light called an ophthalmoscope.
- Your baby will have eye drops to numb the surface of the eyeball.
- Once the eyeball is numb, the doctor will use an instrument called a speculum to hold your baby’s eyelids apart. After the numbing eyedrops, this will not hurt.
- To get a good look at the eye, the doctor will also use an instrument called a depressor to gently move the eyeball.
- Being held down and having a bright light shone in her eyes will make your baby uncomfortable. She may cry during the exam, but she should not feel any pain.
- After the exam, it is normal for your baby to have redness around the eye or in the eye, or even blood stain tears. These will get better by the next day.