ROP (Retinopathy of prematurity)

The retina in the eye is immature in premature babies and at birth, the growth of blood vessels in the retina is not complete. The regulation of vascular growth is affected by the levels of oxygen in the baby's blood, and at high oxygen levels there is a risk of damage to the eye, so-called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Therefore, when babies are being treated with extra oxygen, it is very important to keep the oxygen saturation within strict limits.

ROP is not seen in infants born after week 31 of pregnancy and the risk is higher the more premature the baby is at birth.

Routinely, babies born before week 31 of pregnancy are examined by ophthalmologists from the age of 4–5 weeks. The examinations are repeated until the entire retina has blood vessels.

In the majority of all babies who develop ROP, the disease heals spontaneously, but in advanced forms of ROP, there is a risk that the retina will become detached. The treatment in the more difficult stages of ROP is injections into the eye or, if there is a high risk of retinal detachment, laser treatment to attach the retina to the sclera. In this way, the baby's vision can be saved.

Text: Kajsa Bohlin Blennow, MD