Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Symptoms and Diagnosis

Formerly known as retrolental fibroplasia, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is an ocular condition that generally only affects premature infants (born less than 32 weeks into pregnancy) and underweight babies (born less than 3.3 pounds).

Newborns will develop Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) when:

  • The blood vessels in their eyes grow abnormally.
  • Scar tissue develops in the eye's inner layers.
  • The resulting scar tissue contracts and detaches the retina from the eyes' inner layers

Additionally, babies can develop retinopathy of prematurity when:

  • They don't receive enough oxygen in the uterus.
  • Slow fetal development occurs in the womb.
  • They are exposed to high levels of concentrated oxygen (the molecule O2) or toxins following birth.

Retinopathy of Prematurity Symptoms

Immediately following birth, infants will not display symptoms of Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). In fact, even healthy infants can't completely focus their eyes within the first few weeks of birth.

As a result, regular eye exams will need to occur within the months following birth to:

  • Diagnose Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) as soon as symptoms arise.
  • Provide prompt, comprehensive Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) treatment to prevent the condition from worsening (If left untreated, retinopathy of prematurity can result in blindness).
  • Help infants preserve their vision and attain the best possible outcomes.

When symptoms do arise, they typically include:

  • crossed eyes
  • turned out eyes
  • vision impairment (which can range from nearsightedness to full-blown blindness)

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Tests and Exams

Infants identified as having a high risk of Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) should be thoroughly examined by an ophthalmologist in the weeks following birth.

Although hospitals may have differing protocols regarding when these newborn eye exams should occur, some commonly used guidelines include examining babies:

  • born between 23 and 24 weeks of pregnancy between the 3rd and 4th week following birth
  • born between 25 and 28 weeks of pregnancy between the 4th and 5th week after birth
  • born between 29 and 32 weeks of pregnancy before they are discharged from the hospital

Subsequently, regular eye exams should be performed every 6 months thereafter.

As soon as specialists notice the signs of Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), they will perform imaging tests on a baby's eyes to:

  • Verify the presence of scar tissue.
  • Detect the degree of retinal detachment from the eye's inner tissues

Upon a definitive retinopathy of prematurity diagnosis, treatment will need to begin immediately to prevent further loss of vision.

Medical Malpractice and Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

In some cases, mistakes made by healthcare professionals can cause or intensify a newborn's case of retinopathy of prematurity. Instances of malpractice that can contribute to Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) may include:

  • exposing newborns to toxins
  • improper use of oxygen therapy following birth
  • failing to provide timely, regular eye exams to high risk infants
  • failing to diagnose Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) when symptoms of this condition are clearly present
  • failing to promptly or adequately treat Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)

Parents of babies with Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) can find out if they have a legal claim by setting up a free initial consultation with an experienced Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) attorney. During this meeting, prospective plaintiffs can:

  • Find out if they are entitled to compensation for their infant's medical bills, ongoing treatment costs and pain and suffering.
  • Learn more about the process of winning an Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) lawsuit.
  • Get estimates regarding possible settlement amounts, based on awards granted in past cases similar to their own.

Has your baby been diagnosed with Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)? If so, consult with an experienced Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) attorney who can evaluate your case and help you win the compensation your family deserves.