Does My Child Really Need to Wear These Glasses? A Review of Retinopathy of Prematurity and Long-Term Outcomes

Dawn R. Kuerschner, MS, NNP, RNC

Disclosures

NAINR. 2003;3(3) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Technological advances in neonatology create new challenges for patients, their families, and health care providers. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a condition frequently seen in the premature infant, remains one of these challenges. Physiological stressors cause abnormal growth of retinal blood vessels and may result in vision loss. Common long-term sequelae include myopia, strabismus, and amblyopia; visual difficulties range from minor, correctible deficits to blindness. While research related to ROP continues, the question regarding long-term outcomes is a difficult one to answer for those families in the midst of this life-long challenge.

Premature birth is the beginning of a life-time of challenges and concerns regarding long-term outcomes. When an infant is born prematurely, initial efforts concentrate on life-saving measures needed to sustain life. Although retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is not an admission diagnosis, prevention efforts should be instituted from birth. Currently, ROP is one of the leading causes of visual impairment in the United States. It is estimated that 1,300 children were treated for ROP in 2001 alone.[1] Because vision is a critical developmental factor, research on the prevention and treatment of ROP is paramount. This article will review ROP and long-term visual outcomes.

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