Home > Retinopathy of Prematurity > Overview of ROP
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), formerly known as Retrolental Fibroplasia (RLF), is an eye condition in which abnormal blood vessels grow in the eye, causing bleeding and scarring. This scarring may pull the retina out of position or even make it detach, which could result in vision impairment or blindness.
There are five stages of ROP. Stages one and two usually disappear on their own. These stages involve mild to moderate abnormal vessel growth. Stage three, involving severe abnormal vessel growth, may also go away without treatment, but close attention should be paid, for it may evolve into stage four, meaning part of the retina detaches. This is because scarring remains even when ROP has gone away, so it can still pull the retina out of position or cause retinal detachment. Stage four involves partial retinal detachment and stage five means the retina has been completely detached, meaning a person is totally blind.
The exaact cause of ROP is unknown. It used to be thought that an excessive amount of oxygen during the NICU time caused ROP. However, a lack of oxygen is also associated with ROP. Generally, the greatest risk factors are being born before the thirtieth week gestation or weighing less than 1250 grammes.
In the late 80's, treatments for ROP became available. The first was cryotherapy, in which the peripheral retina would be frozen. This caused the ROP to go away in many cases and reduced the risk of retinal detachment. Laser treatment is also a possibility, which appears to have a better outcome.
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