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Retinopathy of Prematurity

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is when abnormal blood vessels develop in your baby's retinas. The retina is the part of the eye that captures light and sends information to the brain. ROP happens in premature babies or low birth weight babies. ROP most often affects both eyes.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.


Your baby's healthcare provider will do an ophthalmoscopy. Your baby's eyes will be numbed to prevent pain. Your baby may be given a pacifier or sweet liquid to soothe him or her. Your baby's healthcare provider will dilate your baby's pupils and look at the back of his or her eyes with an ophthalmoscope. An ophthalmoscope is a magnifying instrument with a light. The provider will look for abnormal blood vessels in your baby's eyes.


Your baby may need any of the following surgeries if his or her retinopathy is severe:

  • Laser therapy: Your baby's healthcare provider uses a laser to remove abnormal blood vessels.
  • Cryotherapy: Your baby's healthcare provider freezes areas of abnormal blood vessels to slow or stop their growth.
  • Scleral buckling: A band is placed on the eye to help prevent fluid inside the eye from pulling on scar tissue. This helps prevent retinal detachment. The band is removed at a later date as your child grows.
  • Vitrectomy: Your baby's healthcare provider removes the cloudy or bloody vitreous gel that fills the center of your baby's eye. The gel is replaced by saline (salt water) to maintain normal pressure in the eye.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.


Laser therapy and cryotherapy can decrease peripheral vision. Your baby may get an infection after surgery. ROP may get worse, even after treatment. Your child may have vision problems as he or she grows. Your child's vision may be blurry, or he or she may see floaters. Floaters look like spots, cobwebs, strings, or specks. He or she may see flashes of light. Your baby may have blurred vision or blindness. ROP can cause retinal detachment. This is when your baby's retina separates from the back of his or her eye. A detached retina can lead to vision loss.


You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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