Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a greatly avoidable cause of blindness in premature babies. This is due to the fact that the eyes are one of the last “organs” alongside the lungs, to develop in the last weeks of pregnancy. During these early weeks, babies may have to receive supplemental oxygen. The extra oxygen is important for the lungs, but can actually cause damage to the still-developing eye. These oxygen levels, therefore, have to be monitored and managed appropriately by the nurses and doctors. Babies who have received extra oxygen should also be sent for eye tests, as the condition can be treated if caught in time. Premature babies are known to develop this potentially blinding disease if not carefully treated. Health workers are aware of these risks and are obligated to take precautions to prevent blindness.
Often parents believe that their children are blind simply due to being born prematurely and are not provided with adequate information about the condition by the practitioners or healthcare workers who looked after their baby. Most parents even feel guilty as they are given to believe their child was born blind due to prematurity.
If you suspect an eye condition or your baby has been diagnosed with ROP it is recommended that you appoint a legal specialist with many years of experience in these types of cases. Such an attorney would have performed extensive research into medical negligence involving prematurity with resultant vision loss and blindness.
For more information on the history of ROP as well as how such cases due to medical negligence are handled, read our related blog articles.