Retinopathy of Prematurity Program

What is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)?

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a disorder of the retina (the light-sensitive part of the inside of the eye) and only occurs in very premature babies. Generally, the more premature the baby and the lower the birthweight, the greater the risk for developing ROP. Learn more about ROP. 


How Is Retinopathy of Prematurity Treated?

Early diagnosis is important in the treatment of ROP. Babies who develop severe ROP may benefit from a laser photocoagulation treatment to the retina to induce regression of abnormal blood vessels and to prevent further damage from occurring. Laser treatment involves placing laser spots on the peripheral undeveloped retina. This stops the undeveloped retina from producing the excessive growth factors that promote retinopathy. Another possible treatment is the injection of a medication into the eye. This medication reduces the growth factors that promote retinopathy. Although these treatments are successful for most patients, a few patients may not do well and may still need further surgery.

Even with successful surgery, the baby will need to have continued care with a pediatric ophthalmologist. 

Lurie Children’s pediatric ophthalmologists will work with your family to find the best treatment option for your baby.

The Lurie Children’s Difference 

Lurie Children’s Division of Ophthalmology provides world-class treatment and care for a full range of pediatric eye disorders, including Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). In addition to treating and managing care for babies with ROP, the division is committed to advancing care through research. The team regularly collaborates with our own institution’s research department, other academic centers, and integrated national networks to be at the forefront of care.

The division takes great care in compliance with federal, state and institutional regulations with regards to research to provide the best safe care for our patients.

The ROP care team includes doctors with special training in ROP; including a Pediatric Retina Specialist: Safa Rahmani MD, whose specialties include pediatric retinal disease, pediatric retinal detachments, inherited retinal degenerations.

What to Expect

Premature babies born at or before 30 weeks or weighing 1500 grams (3lbs) or less, are at risk for developing ROP. If your baby meets these criteria, a dilated eye exam done by an Ophthalmologist is recommended to determine the presence or development of ROP. 

Lurie Children’s ROP Program has a team of pediatric ophthalmologists that will examine both eyes in the NICU and/or outpatient every 1-4 weeks. At each exam, the ophthalmologist will determine what stage (how severe) and zone (location inside the eye) ROP has developed in each eye or if the blood vessels have completed their growth. Once the blood vessels have completed their growth, follow-up is recommended 6-9 months from the last ROP exam for a pediatric ophthalmology dilated eye exam. While most cases of ROP resolve on their own, others may require treatment/surgery to help prevent vision loss or blindness. Lurie Children’s ROP Program ophthalmologists have specialized training to provide these treatments.

It is important to keep all outpatient follow-up appointments to lessen the risk for complications or vision loss.

Specialists

Lurie Children’s Division of Ophthalmology has a care team of experts dedicated to treating babies with ROP, including researchers devoted to learning more about the condition to find better treatment options.  

Hawke Yoon, MD

Team Program Director

Kelly Laurenti, MD

Associate Director

Safa Rahmani, MD

Associate Director

David Ramirez, MD

Attending Ophthalmologist

Claudia Perez, BSN, RN, COA

ROP Nurse Coordinator

Hanta Ralay Ranaivo, PhD, CCRP

Lead Clinical Research Coordinator-Ophthalmology

Research 

Our team has been involved in the following research:

Resources

Learn more about ROP at KidsHealth.org.