Retinopathy of Prematurity

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina, the layer of nerve tissue in the eye that enables us to see.

How is retinopathy of prematurity diagnosed?

Generally, the earlier a baby is born, the greater the risk of ROP. Because ROP has no signs or symptoms, the only way to detect it is through an eye examination by a pediatric ophthalmologist.

How is retinopathy of prematurity treated?

The results of your baby’s first eye exam will determine the need and frequency of follow-up examinations. ROP is usually diagnosed according to stages that describe how far the blood vessels have grown into the retina.

Some cases of ROP are mild and correct themselves, but others require surgery to prevent vision reduction or blindness. Surgery involves using a laser or other means to stop the growth of the abnormal blood vessels, the goal being to prevent the vessels from pulling on and detaching the retina.

First Aid: Eye Injuries

First Aid

Most eye injuries are minor, like getting soap in the eye or a speck of dirt under the eyelid. Others, like those that happen during sports activities, can be serious and require medical attention.

Signs and Symptoms

  • redness
  • stinging or burning
  • watering
  • sensitivity to light
  • blurred vision
  • swelling of the eyelids
  • discoloration around the eye

What to Do

If you think your child has a particle in the eye or a minor irritation, be sure to:

  • Wash your hands before touching the eye area.
  • Flush the eye with water as soon as possible:
    • Tilt the child's head over a basin or sink with the affected eye pointed down.
    • Gently pull down the lower lid.
    • Gently pour a steady stream of lukewarm water over the eye.
  • Flush the eye for up to 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes to see if the foreign body has been flushed out.

Seek Medical Care

If Your Child Has:

  • been struck in the eye with a ball or other object
  • a red or irritated eye
  • eye discomfort
  • a swollen, red, or painful area around the eye or eyelid
  • an eye that's very sensitive to light

Seek Emergency Care Immediately

If Your Child Has:

  • trouble seeing
  • been exposed to chemicals
  • something embedded in the eye
  • severe eye pain
  • blood in the eye
  • nausea or vomiting after an eye injury

Think Prevention!

Kids who play sports should wear protective goggles or unbreakable glasses as needed. Keep chemicals and other potentially dangerous objects out of the reach of children.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 26, 2016