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The Baby who was born too young

A baby girl, Ira*, born 28 weeks premature and weighing just 1.05 kg at birth was brought to Advanced Eye Hospital. She had been admitted to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and given oxygen supplementation. Her eyes had been first examined at age of 4 weeks when she was in the NICU. Dr Yogesh Patil, Retina Specialist at Advanced Eye Hospital, Navi Mumbai. The eye examination had revealed that both her eyes had presence of Stage 3 zone 2 Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) with bleeding in the retina.

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is an eye disease seen in premature babies in which there is growth of abnormal blood vessels on their retina. ROP usually affects the youngest, smallest and sickest of infants.

If the ROP is in the early stages, no treatment is required as it usually gets better on its own.
If the condition has advanced, treatment is needed. The following options are available:
• Laser treatment

• Cryotherapy

• Eye glasses/ Eye drops

• Scleral Buckling Surgery or Vitrectomy surgery in the later stages.

Subsequently retinal laser treatment was done for both Ira’s eyes in the NICU.

She was followed up every week for the next 6 weeks which showed significant reduction of ROP.

Babies with the below need ROP screening:

  • Birth weight  <1500gms
  • Gestational age of the baby <32 weeks
  • Birth weight between 1500 and 2000 g or gestational age of more than 32 weeks with sickness like need of cardiorespiratory support, prolonged oxygen therapy, apnea of prematurity (a condition in which premature babies have bouts where they stop breathing), anemia needing blood transfusion and neonatal sepsis (infections) or believed by their attending pediatrician or neonatologist to be at high risk.