The inside of the eye (retina) is not fully developed in a premature baby due to premature birth.During development, blood vessels gwo from the central part of eye out towards the edges.This process is completed just before the normal time of delivery.In premature babies, the process is not complete.If the blood vessel growth proceeds normally, the baby does not develop Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP).If the vessels grow and branch abnormally the baby develops ROP.It is more common in babies more than 12 weeks premature.This causes bleeding inside the eye and even progress to retinal detachment.This results in irreversible low vision or blindness.
A trained Ophthalmologist / Retina specialist can detect ROP by dialating the pupils of the eye and using an indirect Ophthalmoscope to scan the entire retina to detect ROP and assess the state of retinal maturity.
Any other preterm baby who had problems after birth like lack of oxygen / infection / blood transfusion / breathing trouble etc. is also vulnerable
It should be completed by day 30 of the life of a premature baby.It should preferably be done earlier (at 2-3 weeks of birth) in very low weight babies (<1200 gm birth weight).
ROP is treated with laser rays or cryopexy to prevent abnormal growth of the blood vessels.It helps to prevent retina from getting detached thus preventing vision loss.