Dec 24, 2008 — by Gary Zucker
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Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a condition that can affect premature babies (babies born before 30 weeks of pregnancy) and can lead to visual impairment or even total and permanent blindness if not treated in a timely and proper manner. ROP is caused when abnormal blood vessels form that can cause detachment of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. All infants who are born before 30 weeks should be evaluated for ROP shortly after their birth by an ophthalmologist experienced and familiar with the treatment of ROP, such as a pediatric ophthalmologist or retinal specialist.

There are five stages of ROP, with stage 1 being the least severe and stage 5 being the most serious (total retinal detachment). Infants with stage 1 or stage 2 ROP often suffer no serious complications and require no treatment. However, if an infant suffers from a more advanced stage of ROP, timely intervention is crucial. If proper treatment is instituted, there is a very strong possibility that retinal detachment can be avoided and the infants vision preserved. ROP may be treated with laser therapy or with cryotherapy. In more advanced stages of ROP, (stages 4 and 5), surgery may be required. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus offer guidelines for the time within an infant must be treated for ROP in order to minimize the chance of retinal detachment and ultimately visual impairment or blindness. If an infant is treated outside of these standards there is a greater chance of a negative outcome. However, if physicians appropriately and timely address and recognize ROP and its signs, the success rate for preserving vision is high.

Please contact one of our medical malpractice attorneys at Gary A. Zucker & Associates, P.C. if your child or loved one has suffered a visual loss to ROP.

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