Has your child been diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity? If your child was born prematurely and suffers from visual impairment or blindness, it may be due to retinopathy of prematurity, a condition that leads to vision problems in premature infants. This is caused by insufficient oxygen levels during neonatal care, which leads to disorganised blood vessel growth in the eyes.

Retinopathy of prematurity can be mild or severe. Mild cases often see the condition rectifying itself without any treatment as the child grows, and their vision will return to normal naturally. In more severe cases, treatment becomes necessary to restore the child’s vision.

What treatments are available for retinopathy of prematurity?

There are two surgical procedures that are most often used for retinopathy of prematurity cases. Laser eye therapy burns the outer edges of the retina to slow or reverse the abnormal growth of blood vessels causing the child’s visual impairment. Similarly, cryotherapy uses freezing to achieve the same purpose. In both types of treatment, the child will lose some peripheral vision, but the process will save the centre of the eye and their sharp vision, making it a worthwhile sacrifice.

Treatment is not often necessary for the early stages, but only when the condition shows signs of worsening or the retina begins to detach. In the most severe cases, there are a few more advanced surgeries available when necessary, such as a scleral buckle or vitrectomy.

What if the treatment does not work?

There are a few known cases of children who do not respond to the treatment. In these instances, ancillary treatments or surgeries to treat the effects of the visual impairment will be recommended. It is important to remember that treatment will decrease the chances of visual impairment or loss, but it does not always prevent it. However, with the correct medical care, there is a very high chance of success, with most cases reporting full vision restoration.

If your child is living with retinopathy of prematurity as a result of medical negligence and you would like to know more, contact Paul du Plessis Attorneys.

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