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: Pinkeye

First AidPinkeye (or conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the white part of the eye and the inner eyelids. It can be caused by allergies, irritating substances, or infection from a virus or bacteria.

Some kinds of pinkeye go away on their own, but others require treatment with antibiotics. When pinkeye is caused by an infection, it can be spread easily from person to person.

Signs and Symptoms

  • discomfort or feeling like something is in the eye
  • redness of the eye and inner eyelid
  • watery or pus-like liquid seeping from the eye
  • lashes matted or stuck together upon waking up
  • itchiness and tearing (common with allergic pinkeye)

What to Do

  • Call your doctor, particularly for a newborn (treatment may include antibiotic drops or ointment).
  • Carefully clean the eye area with warm water and gauze or cotton balls.
  • Put cool compresses on the eye.
  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve discomfort (check instructions for correct amount).

Seek Medical Care

If Your Child:

  • shows no improvement in 2 or 3 days if treated, or a week if untreated
  • has eye redness that worsens
  • has increasing swelling of the eyelids
  • complains of severe pain
  • experiences any change in vision
  • shows sensitivity to light
  • has ear pain (pinkeye and ear infections can happen at the same time)

Think Prevention!

Wash hands well and often, especially after touching eyes. Don't allow sharing of washcloths, towels, and pillowcases. Talk to your doctor if itchy, watery, or red eyes are a frequent problem — allergies might be the cause.

If certain household things seem to irritate the eyes, try:

  • dusting and vacuuming often
  • closing windows and doors when pollen is heavy
  • keeping scented or irritating chemicals (like household cleaners) to a minimum
  • avoiding secondhand smoke

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