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Retinopathy of Prematurity
What expertise does Children's National offer for retinopathy of prematurity?
- ROP screening expertise: Our team has years of experience treating retinopathy of prematurity. 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 Specialty Care Locations 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.
What should I expect my child's 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.
What treatments are available 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