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Retinopathy of Prematurity Screening (ROP) is the
development of abnormal blood vessels in the retina of the eye in a premature
ROP occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow and spread
throughout the retina, the tissue that lines the back of the eye. These
abnormal blood vessels are fragile and can leak, scarring the retina and
pulling it out of position. This causes a retinal detachment.
At The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s, a board certified pediatric
ophthalmologist is responsible for screening newborn infants at risk for ROP.
Infants with ROP are considered to be at higher risk for
developing certain eye problems later in life, such as retinal detachment,
myopia (nearsightedness), strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), and
glaucoma. In many cases, these eye problems can be treated or controlled.
ROP is classified in five stages, ranging from mild (stage
I) to severe (stage V). Most babies who develop ROP have stages I or II.
However, in a small number of babies, ROP worsens, sometimes very rapidly.
addition to birth weight and how early a baby is born, other factors
contributing to the risk of ROP include anemia, blood transfusions, respiratory
distress, breathing difficulties, and the overall health of the infant.
is treated with laser surgery performed by a board certified specialist who is part
of the neonatal team at The Children’s Hospital at Saint Peter’s.
most effective proven treatment for ROP is laser therapy. Laser therapy
"burns away" the periphery of the retina, which has no normal blood
vessels. Laser treatment destroys the peripheral areas of the retina, slowing
or reversing the abnormal growth of blood vessels. Unfortunately, the treatments
also destroy some side vision. This is done to save the most important part of
our sight—the sharp, central vision we need for "straight ahead"
activities such as reading, sewing, and driving. Laser treatments are performed
only on infants with advanced ROP, particularly stage III. It is considered
invasive surgery of the eye, and doctors have not yet determined long-term side
has adopted a law that all newborns must have their hearing tested before
leaving the hospital or within one month after birth. At The Children’s
Hospital at Saint Peter’s University
Hospital, a hearing
screening is performed on all newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Why does a newborn need a hearing screening? It is because a
newborn will have the best chance for normal language development if any
hearing loss is detected and treated by the age of six months: the earlier the
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New Brunswick, NJ 08901
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