A full-term pregnancy is about 38-42 weeks. A child born before 31 Weeks is said to be prematurely born. Many a times, such prematurely born babies experiences an eye disease called as Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP).
Retinopathy of Prematurity affects the tissue of the back of the eye known as Retina. Humans can see when retina senses the light and sends signals to the brain. Unwanted blood vessels grow on baby’s retina when a child is suffering from ROP, which can later on cause serious eye and vision problems.
There are chances that ROP may go away on its own but while the child is growing up, it becomes extremely important to visit and get checked by an pediatric ophthalmologist/ retina specialist on a regular basis. There might be a need of an urgent treatment to prevent blindness. Children who may have other problems during a premature birth like anemia, not enough vitamin E or breathing problems have a higher chance of getting ROP in comparison to other kids.
Depending upon the type, stage and severity of ROP expert might suggest treatment in the form of Intravitreal ANTIVEGF injection in the eye or in most cases Retinal Lasers.
Kids with ROP have higher tendency for short sightedness (myopia), squint and other eye related problems. It is advisable to be on regular follow up even after the child is successfully treated for ROP.
GOLDEN RULE: Any preterm baby with <34 weeks of gestational age and <2000 gms birth weight needs a ROP SCREENING at around 3-4 weeks of postnatal age by an ophthalmologist specialized in screening and treating ROP !