Once a baby begins to grow and develop in his/her mother’s womb, the blood vessels in the eye also begin to grow, moving from the back central part of the eye toward the front. In most babies the entire process ends just around the normal time of delivery. But in the case of premature babies, the process is interrupted and a baby can lose sight , resulting in blindness several weeks after birth if not properly treated. This unfinished growth of blood vessels and resulting scar tissue is called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), and it is commonly found in babies who are born very premature, at less than 31 weeks.
We prefer to treat ROP with a laser. If indicated by strict scientific guidelines, the laser can be used to create scar tissue on the anterior, peripheral retina that is not fully developed with blood vessels. By doing this, our doctors are able to save as much as possible of the central retina, keeping the best part of the eye’s vision intact. Patients who have the surgery can expect to have some of their side vision to be lost after laser treatment. However, the good news is that the central retina is what we use to help us drive, see and read, making it the best part of the eye to save.
Did You Know…
Retinopathy of Prematurity occurs in over 16% of all premature births.
To learn more about laser surgery for retinopathy, please contact us today.