In the management of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), several studies have demonstrated laser photocoagulation to be as effective as cryotherapy in reducing the incidence of unfavourable structural outcome. However, few data are available on the functional outcome. The 3 year visual acuity outcome of infants treated with laser or cryotherapy in a neonatal unit is presented.Methods
The case notes of 34 infants (64 eyes) treated with cryotherapy, between 1989 and 1992, and 32 infants (59 eyes) treated with laser, between 1992 and 1995, were reviewed.Results
In the cryotherapy group 69% of eyes had a favourable structural outcome. Of these structurally successful eyes 62.5%, 35.0%, and 33.3% of eyes had visual acuities within normal limits at the 12 month, 24 month, and 36 month corrected age milestones respectively. In the laser group 93% of eyes had a favourable structural outcome. Of these structurally successful eyes 96.4%, 66.7%, and 59.5% of eyes had visual acuities within normal limits at the 12 month, 24 month, and 36 month corrected age milestones respectively.Conclusion
In the management of ROP, when laser photocoagulation induces a structurally successful result, the potential for normal visual acuity development at 3 years is high. Whether the poorer functional outcome of the eyes treated with cryotherapy is an artefact of the historical nature of the study or as a result of an adverse effect of the destructive transcleral application is unknown.