Results of screening low-birth-weight infants for retinopathy of prematurity


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Abstract

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) continues to be an important cause of potentially preventable blindness worldwide. The pattern of visual impairment from ROP in some middle-income countries—high rates affecting larger and more mature infants—resembles that seen in more developed countries two decades ago and has been called a “third epidemic” of the disease. Expert bodies in the United Kingdom and the United States have recently issued new guidelines for screening for ROP that utilize both birth weight and gestational age criteria. Studies in both countries suggest these criteria might be further revised to decrease time spent on screening without missing any significant disease. Population-based follow-up studies of extremely preterm infants suggest that although more preterm infants are surviving, with adequate screening and treatment, rates of blindness from ROP may be declining. Further information on the longer-term impact of ROP comes from a number of studies and particularly the Multicenter Trial of Cryotherapy for Retinopathy of Prematurity (CRYO-ROP) study. The risk of both myopia and strabismus is increased with any and each higher stage of ROP. Evidence is emerging that laser therapy for threshold disease may be associated with better visual outcome than cryotherapy, although complications following the former remain a concern. The fight against ROP may be enhanced by new information on the pathogenesis, including possible genetic predisposition and the role of vascular endothelial growth factor.

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