Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a disorder of the developing retina among low birth weight, preterm infants potentially leading to blindness in a small but significant number of those infants. ROP is getting noticed due to rapidly improving neonatal care standards, which makes the survival of such premature children a reality.

Who should be screened for ROP?

  • Children born with less than 1700 grams birth weight
  • Children born before the gestational age of 34 weeks
  • Children who are exposed to oxygen for more than 30 days

Screening is also recommended for children with birth weight < 2000 grams or Gestational age < 37 weeks in the following cases

  • Respiratory distress syndrome
  • Multiple blood transfusions
  • Infection
  • Apnoeic episodes
  • Multiple births
  • Intraventricular haemorrhage
  • Any other case where the paediatrician has concerns

What is the right time to screen for ROP?

All children must be screened at least once by 31 weeks gestational age or 3-4 weeks after birth, whichever is earlier.

In children whose birth weight is less than 1200 grams or are born before 24 weeks gestational age, the examination must be scheduled at 2 to 3 weeks post-delivery. Examination within two weeks of delivery not required as the normal retinal maturation would not be completed during this period.

Preparation for examination: The baby is dilated using a half-diluted tropicamide-phenylephrine combination. Alternatively 0.5%-1% cyclopentolate eye drops can be applied. 2-3 installations of drops are applied 5 minutes apart, and examination must be done after 30 to 45 minutes.

Excess drops on the cheek should be wiped off to prevent systemic absorption.

ROP can be treated with several treatments including Laser photocoagulation, Cryotherapy, Intravitreal injection, Scleral buckle, Vitrectomy. For more information on how ROP can be detected and remedied in time, please consult your ophthalmologist or eye doctor at a reliable eye care centre.