Retinopathy of Prematurity

Retinopathy of prematurity is a potentially blinding complication of preterm birth. The condition starts within a few weeks of birth and can progress rapidly over the following few weeks, or regress spontaneously. The international classification describes 5 stages, 3 zones, and plus disease (tortuosity and dilation of retinal blood vessels). In 2010 the annual incidence of blindness or visual impairment from ROP was estimated to affect 32,000 infants born preterm. All regions are now affected.


Risk factors for ROP include increasing prematurity, intrauterine fetal growth restriction and a range of postnatal risk factors including hyperoxia and fluctuating hypo-/hyperoxia, sepsis, failure to gain weight, thrombocytopenia and transfusion with blood products. Infants who are unstable, and who develop necrotising enterocolitis and bronchopulmonary dyplasia are particularly at risk.

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