When a baby is born too early, there are often many concerns regarding their health. One of these areas of health include the health of their eyes. Due to a disease called retinopathy of prematurity, a premature baby's eyes need to be monitored closely.
What is Retinopathy of Prematurity?
Babies born earlier than 31 weeks of gestation and weigh less than 2.75 pounds at birth are most susceptible to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Other risk factors of getting ROP include high levels of supplemental oxygen, a low heart rate, and bleeding in the brain.
First diagnosed in 1942, this disorder can affect one or both of the eyes. In worst case scenarios, it can lead to lifelong vision problems, including blindness. Ninety percent of all infants diagnosed with ROP have a milder form of the disorder that improves as a baby gets older. For some infants diagnosed with ROP, they can be at a higher risk for eye problems in the future including:
Treatment options depend on the severity of the condition.
Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity
For the most severe cases of ROP, one of the most effective treatment options is cryotherapy. During this treatment, an ophthalmologist freezes the retinal tissue in order to destroy a part of it. This decreases the need for oxygen which in turn decreases the abnormal growth of blood vessels. Laser therapy is another type of treatment that burns away part of the retina. Both of these treatments can impede side vision but have been proven effective in lessening the chances of complete blindness.
For babies whose ROP is not as severe but who may develop problems in the future, it is important to get their eyes checked on a regular basis. After being discharged from the NICU, babies should get their eyes examined within the first year of life and then again around 3 1/2 years old.
Many ROP patients will develop nearsightedness and for this, prescription glasses are often needed at an early age. For young children who need to wear glasses, it is best to get plastic frames. Lenses should be made out of polycarbonate as this material is stronger and there is less chance of breaking them. For young children who are especially active, an elastic strap can be attached to help keep glasses in place.
For babies born early, it is the best practice to get their eyes evaluated as early as possible and as often as needed as they grow.Share
4 August 2015
If your vision isn't as good as it used to be, you need to see an optometrist. I developed an uncontrollable twitch in both eyes. The problem became so bad that it interfered with my sleep at night. I became cranky, irritable and extremely self-conscience about my problem. At times, I couldn't see anything, even if it was close to my face. But after speaking to my regular doctor about my twitchy eyes, they referred me to an optometrist for an eye exam. The optometrist diagnosed me with poor nerve function. If I didn't do something about it, I'd lose my vision. My eye doctor prescribed eyeglasses to help me see better until I underwent surgery to repair the damaged nerves in my eyes. Now, I see just fine. If you want to know more about protecting your vision, keep reading my blog.