Retinopathy of Prematurity

Premature babies are at a greater risk for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a retinal disorder that is a common cause of vision loss in childhood and can lead to lifelong impairment and blindness. At Children's National Health System, our ophthalmology team is recognized for its experience in screening and treating this highly complex disease.

Retinopathy of Prematurity at Children's: Why Choose Us

Retinopathy of prematurity is common in premature babies. About half of infants with more severe cases may develop serious eye damage and blindness if left untreated. That's why it's important you trust your child's care to a team of pediatric ophthalmologists who specialize in ROP. We offer:

  • ROP screening expertise: Our team has years of experience treating ROP. We provide screening exams and retinal consultations and treatment for hundreds of new patients seen annually in our NICU.
  • Experienced NICU team: Our pediatric ophthalmologists are members of the comprehensive care team dedicated to supporting the multiple needs of babies born prematurely.
  • Convenient follow-up care: Timely follow-up is key to achieving a good visual outcome. We see our ROP patients at our main Eye Clinic at Children's National and at our Regional Outpatient Centers closer to the community where you live.
  • Advanced treatments: Some infants with ROP need urgent treatment. Our team is highly trained to determine the best course for your child. We will discuss with you the full range of treatments available today and help you choose the most appropriate and effective one for your infant.

Newborn Screening for Retinopathy of Prematurity

We routinely screen all infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) who are at risk for ROP. We consider the following premature infants to be at risk:

  • Born at or before 30 weeks gestational age
  • Birth weight less than or equal to 3 lb., 5 oz. (1500 grams)
  • Determined to have had a complicated neonatal course

We perform eye examinations every one to two weeks until the retina is fully mature or needs treatment. These exams take less than 15 minutes. We are sensitive to the needs of the most extreme premature babies, and their stress level.

Children with ROP may need glasses early in life, or experience other problems such as strabismus (misaligned eyes), amblyopia (“lazy eye”), glaucoma, and cataracts. These problems can be easily treated and controlled, if detected early. Our team is here to provide all of your long-term pediatric ophthalmology needs.

Contact Us

For more information, call us at 202-476-4636.



Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity at Children's National

Our team of pediatric ophthalmologists is highly trained to identify infants needing urgent treatment. Our treatment options include:

  • Laser therapy: Treats the peripheral retina to close abnormal blood vessels, prevent retinal detachment and save the central, vision-critical retina
  • Intravitreal injection: Technique to inject medicine inside the eye that reverses the abnormal development of blood vessels
  • Cryotherapy: Uses a freezing technique to stop further damage
  • Scleral buckle: Silicone band placed around the eye to allow the retina to reattach

Vitrectomy: Procedure that delicately removes scar tissue and allows the retina to reattach 

Children's Team

Children's Team





Our specialized pediatric ophthalmologists are experts at recognizing and treating complex eye conditions in infants and children.

Aidan's Story

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"My miracle son, Aidan, is now a feisty 5-year-old. He talks, walks, runs, and eats everything in sight."

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