Infants who are premature (born early) or who weigh less than 3 pounds at birth may develop retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Infants who have received oxygen therapy, developed infections or faced additional health issues associated with preterm birth are at greater risk of developing ROP.
ROP occurs when aberrant blood vessels develop in the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye). These aberrant blood vessels are connected to the retina and have the potential to pull the retina up and out of the back of the eye.
Some infants with ROP have minor cases and recover on their own. However, some infants require medical attention to preserve their vision and fend off blindness.
There are no visible indications of ROP. The retina may partially or totally peel away from its natural place in the rear of the eye in more severe cases of ROP resulting in total vision loss. Children who have undiagnosed ROP may have the inability to follow objects with their eyes. Moreover, their eyes may wander, shake, or make other unusual movements and they may have trouble recognizing faces objects. Their pupils may look white and as they grow older they may develop additional eye conditions, such as near-sightedness, amblyopia (lazy eye), squint and retinal detachment.
There are 5 different stages of ROP. Doctors use these stages to keep track of how serious ROP is. The stages range from stage 1 (mild) to stage 5 (severe). Stages 1 and 2 usually have a good prognosis and babies in these stages generally get better without treatment and go on to have healthy vision. However, it is imperative that a close watch, for progression, be kept on these babies by an ophthalmologist.
Some babies who develop stage 3 get better with no treatment and go on to have healthy vision. But others need treatment to stop abnormal blood vessels from damaging the retina and causing retinal detachment (when the light-sensitive layer gets displaced from its normal position and fluid collects underneath, damaging the photo-receptor cells)
Both stages 4 and 5 are very serious. Babies in stage 4 have partially detached retinas and need treatment. In stage 5, the retina detaches completely. Even with treatment, babies in stage 5 may have vision loss or blindness. However, even after treatment which may involve surgical intervention the prognosis for vision can be poor, hence, ophthalmologists pre-emptively start treatment at stage 3.
It is important that premature babies be screened and kept on close follow-up so that early changes of ROP can be caught as early treatment is crucial to preserve vision.
Options for treatment include laser treatment, anti-VEGF injections and/or retinal surgery. The purpose of ROP surgery is to halt the progression of ROP and avoid blindness. Unfortunately, some ROP newborns will still lose their eyesight or go blind, even after surgery.
At The Eye Center- Dr. Mahnaz Naveed Shah & Associates our team of eight ophthalmology subspecialists/ eye specialists, eye surgeons who are considered amongst the very best eye specialists in Karachi and in Pakistan, have the diagnostic and treatment capabilities to treat from the simplest to the most complex patients. We work hard to provide our patients with the best possible medical and surgical eye care, in a state of the art purpose built eye care facility. We offer the entire array of medical, laser and surgical treatments to help provide patients the best possible care in the most efficient, safe and ethical manner.
If you need an appointment, please contact us at 03041119544 during our working hours or leave us a WhatsApp message at +923028291799 and someone will connect with you. Walk-in appointments are also available for emergencies. We can also be reached through our web portal on www.surgicaleyecenter.org