Retinopathy of prematurity, when not treated correctly, can cause blindness in premature babies.  The condition is well understood.  With proper care blindness can be avoided.  Health workers are trained in the identification and management of the condition.  A member of the medical team that is key to this process is the Ophthalmologist.  This is a physician that specialises in the diagnoses and treatment of diseases of they eye.

What is the cause of this condition?

Premature babies are at risk of retinopathy of prematurity.  This is why when a baby is born prematurely, the paediatrician or hospital will refer the child to an ophthalmologist for examination.  During the last twelve weeks of pregnancy much of the development of the eye occurs.  Premature birth can mean that the blood vessels in the eye have not developed sufficiently and have not reached the retina edge.  The result is that the retina may not receive the nutrients and oxygen it requires.  To compensate new blood vessels form but, because they are fragile, these can bleed causing scarring.  This scarring can shrink which then pulls on the retina.  The consequence is that the retina can become detached and this can lead to visual impairment or blindness.  The ophthalmologist checks for abnormal blood vessel development as an indicator of the condition.

How will the ophthalmologist treat retinopathy of prematurity?

The ophthalmologist must identify if the condition exists, and if it does exist, what stage is it in.  There are 5 stages of this disease ranging from mild to severe.  The first two stages often resolve themselves without any treatment and the ophthalmologist will keep monitoring.  If the condition is severe, laser therapy is an effective treatment.  In the most extreme of cases the ophthalmologist has a choice of two procedures: a Scleral Buckle or a Vitrectomy.  An ophthalmologist could be found to be medically negligent if they do not follow all of the proper protocols with this disease.  The measure to apply is would a similar professional have acted in the same manner in the similar circumstances.  If you believe your child is the victim of medical negligence, call Paul du Plessis Attorneys today. Blindness from retinopathy of prematurity can be avoided.

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