Have you recently heard about retinopathy of prematurity, and now have troublesome concerns about your child’s eyesight? Perhaps your child was born prematurely and had to receive oxygen treatment in an incubator to assist with their development. Soon afterwards, the doctors noticed a problem with your child’s eyesight.

An optometrist recently diagnosed your child with retinopathy of prematurity, and you are burning with questions about this condition. The doctors explained that the condition is caused by unbalanced oxygen levels that cause disorganised growth in the blood vessels in the eyes, and that it has varying degrees of severity. Impaired vision and even blindness are the most severe results of retinopathy of prematurity. About 90 percent of children with retinopathy of prematurity have mild cases and do not even need treatment.

What are the complications of retinopathy of prematurity?

Retinopathy of prematurity itself can cause varying degrees of visual impairment, including total blindness. In addition to that, children with retinopathy of prematurity are at higher risk of developing a number of eye problems later in life, even if they have a mild case of retinopathy of prematurity. These problems include retinal detachment, myopia (near-sightedness), strabismus (cross-eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye syndrome) and glaucoma. Many of these cases can be treated of effectively managed, however.

What are the treatments for retinopathy of prematurity?

The two most effective and recommended surgical treatments for retinopathy of prematurity are laser eye therapy and cryotherapy. Both forms of therapy “burn” the outer edges of the retina to slow or reverse the abnormal growth of blood vessels. The negative effect of this is that the child will lose some peripheral vision, but it is done in order to save the more important sharp vision that they need. The treatments are only necessary for serious cases of retinopathy of prematurity; Stage I, II and III often rectify themselves without the need for surgery. In the most severe cases, more advanced surgeries such as a scleral buckle or vitrectomy may become necessary.

If your child was not properly cared for by the doctors, contact Paul Du Plessis Attorneys.

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