Diagnosis of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
The diagnosis of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) depends on several factors. Retinopathy of prematurity is characterized by the its location, called the zone, and the extent of abnormal blood vessel growth, called the stage. How the rest of the blood vessels appear, called plus disease, is also described. Once the stage, zone and presence of plus disease reaches a certain level, then treatment may be advised.
A retina specialist with experience in managing retinopathy of prematurity can readily diagnose the extent of ROP by simply looking into the eyes. At the bedside, for example, I will do a brief but comprehensive examination of the retina. I look for certain changes that tell me the extent of your baby’s retinopathy. Based on this impression, I may advise either very careful follow-up, or surgery.
Surgery for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
It is generally advised that most babies who have reached the point of needing surgery be treated within 72 hours. In more advanced stages, called rush disease, treatment within 24 hours is advised.
I personally try to treat all babies the following day, even if it means rearranging my office schedule, or doing the surgery after hours. As a parent of three young children, I know how difficult it can be for you, as a parent, to just sit and wait– so the sooner, the better.
At both Florida Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital, I have the privilege of working with a dedicated, accommodating team of nurses and anesthesiologists who manage only children– we all have families, and understand what you are going through.
Treatment of Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
There are pretty much only three ways to treat retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). In some cases, injection of medicine into your baby’s eyes may be advised, while in most cases, laser treatment may be the best option. In more sever cases, surgery, called a vitrectomy, may be warranted.
I personally speak with each parent, and go through all the options, and advise them on what I think is best– treating your baby as if he or she were my own. In the next section, I’ll discuss how treatment is done, and what you, as a parent, can expect.