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To describe the changes in the characteristics of infants treated for severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in a tertiary referral unit in China after screening guidelines were issued in 2004 and to evaluate the effectiveness of the current criteria.Information on consecutive infants referred to a single eye department for treatment of Stage 3 (Type 1 pretheshold and threshold disease), Stage 4, and Stage 5 ROP between January 2001 and May 2012 was retrieved from medical records.The mean gestational age was 29.98 ± 2.13 weeks (range 26–34 weeks), and the mean birth weight was 1,414.32 ± 343.18 g (range 742–2,087 g). The proportion of infants with Stage 4 and Stage 5 ROP decreased statistically significantly over time (P = 0.026 and P < 0.001, respectively) after screening guidelines for ROP were issued in 2004. The median postmenstrual age when patients first visited the study hospital was 48.32 weeks (range 30–602 weeks); later presentation was significantly associated with more advanced ROP (P < 0.001). In addition, the postmenstrual age of first presentation showed a significant decrease over time (P < 0.001) after the screening guidelines were issued. The current Chinese screening guidelines cover 99.63% of infants while 9.07% of infants exceeded the U.K. screening criteria and 35.77% of infants exceeded the U.S. criteria.After the government issued guidelines on ROP screening, the birth weight and gestational age of severe ROP patients remain similar. Big infants got severe ROP as before. But the awareness of ROP increased, the proportion of infants with retinal detachment caused by ROP decreased, and the infants received more timely treatment. The current ROP screening criteria are very effective.