Retinopathy of Prematurity


breastfeeding_momRetinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is an avoidable cause of blindness.  Premature babies are known to develop the potentially blinding disease called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) if not carefully treated.   Health workers are aware of these risks and should take precautions to prevent blindness.

Paul du Plessis has many years of experience and has performed extensive research into medical negligence involving Retinopathy of Prematurity with resultant vision loss and blindness.  Being able to call on the assistance of highly respected local and international experts in this field enables us to give our clients the best possible chance of success in such claims.

Paul du Plessis will personally attend to your claim, including engaging, consulting and debating with the leading experts in this field of medical negligence, in order to properly assess your claim.


ROP and medical negligence

Baby - Day Old in Hospital

Medical negligence relating to ROP may include:

On the part of the Paediatrician / Hospital:

  • Failure to constantly monitor and in so doing maintain correct oxygen levels in your baby’s blood;
  • Failure to refer your baby to an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) for eye examinations (to check for irregular vascular development);

On the part of the Ophthalmologist (eye doctor):

  • Failure to inform parents as to the need for regular follow up eye examinations
  • Failure to perform constant and appropriately timed follow up eye examinations;
  • Failure to properly diagnose Retinopathy of Prematurity in its early stages; and
  • Failure to timeously and properly treat ROP so as to avoid irreparable harm.

If your baby was born prematurely and has become blind due to ROP, Paul du Plessis will assess your case at no cost in order to determine whether medical negligence played a part in the blindness and if you have a case.

What Damages will be claimed for my child?

The damages suffered by a child afflicted with permanent blindness due to Retinopathy of Prematurity will include all of the following:

  • Cost of Special Equipment
  • Costs associated with additional therapies to maximize your child’s potential
  • Cost of Medical Treatment related to Blindness
  • Cost of having a driver/assistant
  • Loss of Earnings
Real case testimonial

Our daughter is 11 years old and blind due to ROP. I came across an advert in our local newspaper, which led me to Paul du Plessis and his team. Talk about a safe haven in an unbearable storm.

We met Paul in 2008 and were introduced to the idea of claiming for the unfortunate events that caused our daughter’s blindness. Obviously money could never replace what was lost, but it could ensure a future for our daughter with less obstacles and more possibilities.

With expert guidance and fellowship, Paul and his team made the process as painless as possible. From the word go the commitment from their side was overwhelming. They made us part of the Du Plessis family!

From “strangers” to “friends”, the road we travelled with them is definitely one we will never forget. Paul, to you and your team, thank you. No words can be spoken to show our gratitude for what you did and accomplished. Your actions and devotion gave our daughter the key to unlock the fullness of life. You helped create order from the chaos, confusion turned to clarity and somewhere along the line we were able to make sense of the future from the history of the past.

Thanks to you and your hard work our cloud is now also drawn with a silver lining.

Proving negligence

Hospital Records

Hospital and other medical records will provide the history of treatment of your premature baby.  Although hospitals and doctors are expected to keep the records for a very long time, this doesn’t always happen.  It is always best to get hold of the records as soon as possible.

We will refer your case to our panel of the leading Ophthalmologists and Paediatricians in order to assess the prospects of a successful claim.

I have a claim, what should I do?

If your child was born prematurely and is blind due to ROP, Paul will assess your case at no cost in order to determine whether medical negligence played a part in the blindness.  If your child’s claim has prospects of success, we will assist on a no win-no fee basis.


As medical science has evolved, ever younger and smaller babies born prematurely have been saved.
In the 1940’s and 1950’s many premature babies were presenting with blindness due to damaged and detached retinas.  This condition was named “retrolental fibroplasia”.

During the late 1950’s studies were performed which identified oxygen as a particularly troublesome factor in causing the disease.  It was believed that due to the fact that the relative state of low oxygenation experienced by a foetus in the mother’s womb was required for normal retinal development which takes place during the last 12-14 weeks of pregnancy.

The name of the disease was later changed to Retinopathy of Prematurity, which if translated into simple language that we can all understand means “damage to the retina suffered by babies born prematurely”.

ROP is caused by disorganized growth of retinal blood vessels which may result in scarring and retinal detachment. ROP can be mild and may resolve spontaneously, but may lead to blindness in serious cases. As such, all preterm babies are at risk for Retinopathy of Prematurity.  Low birth weight an gestational age and exposure to oxygen therapy are additional risk factors.

If diagnosed properly through regular eye examinations and treated timeously ROP does normally not lead to blindness.


Oxygen is administered to a premature baby either via a tube inserted into the lungs via the throat (intubation), headbox or CPAP (nasal prongs).  Health workers are required to constantly monitor oxygen concentration levels in the gas /air administered to the baby as well as in your baby’s blood (this is done by way of pulse oximeter (a device placed on the skin which measures various things in your blood – and provides a reading of oxygen saturation (measured as a percentage – %)) and also by drawing and analyzing blood samples (giving a reading of oxygen – blood/gas tension).
Although it is often contended that oxygen is not the only risk factor related to ROP and that there are no definitive “safe” levels of oxygen that should be maintained in a baby’s blood, it has been proven in an overwhelming number of studies that oxygen is the predominant factor in causing ROP and that very high levels of oxygen saturation and oxygen–blood/gas tension must be avoided to prevent ROP.

Treatment of the eyes

In the late 1980’s studies were performed in the United States in which babies presenting with ROP were constantly monitored and treated at various stages of the development of ROP.   The result of this study was the following:

  • An international classification of the progressive stages of the disease;
  • A universally accepted screening and treatment protocol (indication of when and how the eye should be treated at various stages of the disease’s development)
  • A responsibility to refer high risk babies to an ophthalmologist
  • A responsibility to examine young eyes and perform certain procedures to save eyes at risk of developing blindness.
  • An indication of which babies are at high risk of developing ROP

There are various authorities that differ on the risk profile of various babies.  The current internationally accepted regimen is that all babies born at a post menstrual age of less than 33 weeks or weighing less than 1500g or above the aforementioned criteria but who have received prolonged supplemental oxygen or had a stormy neonatal course should be examined referred to and examined by an ophthalmologist for the development of ROP in order to enable timely treatment to prevent blindness.  The South African National Department of Health has adopted this policy.

Contact Details

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Telephone: +27 (0) 12 809 1588
FAX: +27 (0) 86 603 0097

Office Details

Block 2, Lombardy Business Park
Cnr Cole & Graham Rds

Contact Us

My son is 7 years old and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and blindness in 2009 when he was just one year old. His brain become damaged due to a shortage of oxygen which could have been prevented had he received appropriate healthcare. As you can imagine we were distraught, not just because we had no idea how we were going to take care and raise him financially. But the fact that we must raise a disable child!

While I was researching cerebral palsy I came across Paul du Plessis and his team – what a blessing. It was the start of my son’s and our future. We started the claim process immediately. From the start they took us in as part of their family. It was a long process, which was made effortless.

Money will never make our child normal again but Paul and his team made it possible for us to take care of him and make his life as comfortable as possible. The compensation that we received has made it possible for our family to live in a house which has been modified to our disabled son’s needs. We have a big enough vehicle to be able to take him with us wherever we go. He has a tailor made wheelchair, and receives all of the therapy he needs.

Our family can never say thank you enough for Paul du Plessis and his team. We will be grateful for the rest of our lives – without them there would be a lot less sunshine in our family’s lives.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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