Retinopathy of prematurity is an abnormal retinal condition that may develop in very premature babies. It is essential that babies at risk for retinopathy of prematurity receive ongoing retinal examinations in the first few months of life.
Many premature babies develop mild retinopathy of prematurity in their eyes. They require observation to make sure that the retinal changes do not progress to the more severe form of this condition. Mild cases of retinopathy of prematurity will resolve on their own leaving little to no permanent retinal damage.
The severe form of retinopathy of prematurity can lead to permanent blindness in one or both eyes. If the retinopathy is detected in a timely manner, a laser treatment is given to the outer retinal area of the affected eye. This treatment will significantly lessen the chance that the retina will detach and treated eyes frequently retain good vision.
Children with a history of retinopathy of prematurity are at increased risk for other eye problems including strabismus, amblyopia and the need for glasses at a young age. Many of these children require ongoing eye care during their childhood years.