Infants born prematurely can experience a wide range of health issues, and eye health is no exception. One such condition is called retinopathy of prematurity, and it can threaten your child’s vision. Raghu Murthy, MD, FACS, and the team at Retina Eye Specialists in South Pasadena, California, offer top-quality diagnostic and treatment services for this condition, and they’ve helped many families secure healthy vision for their little ones. Booking an appointment is as simple as a phone call or a visit to the online scheduling page.
Retinopathy of prematurity is a disease that affects premature infants. It occurs when the retinal blood vessels develop abnormally, limiting the flow of blood to the retina.
Your retina is located in the rear portion of the eye, and it’s covered in specialized cells that help convert light into visual messages, which are then interpreted by the brain. Problems in the retina can severely limit or even eliminate vision.
Many infants with retinopathy of prematurity are able to see normally, but when the condition becomes severe, it threatens their vision. While many cases of retinopathy of prematurity resolve on their own, there’s no way to predict which infants will experience more severe cases.
Infants born before the 31st week of pregnancy have a higher risk of retinopathy of prematurity than those who are born at later stages of development. Birth weight also comes into play, with infants who weigh 2.75 pounds or less having higher risk levels.
Premature infants often have a wide range of medical needs, and they undergo numerous tests in the first few weeks of life. Having a professional eye exam should be part of your baby’s health care planning, as delays in treatment can increase the risk of vision loss.
Because each premature infant has a specific set of health needs, treating retinopathy of prematurity is an individualized process. Dr. Murthy creates a treatment plan that aligns with your child’s specific needs.
Laser therapy is one option, using concentrated beams of light to destroy abnormal blood vessels. While this approach can preserve vision in the central visual field, it does destroy peripheral vision.
Certain medications like intravitreal Avastin injection can also treat retinopathy of prematurity. Some work by blocking the aggressive development of blood vessels, and many are approved for use in other eye conditions and are currently being studied for use in retinopathy of prematurity.
Cryotherapy uses extreme cold temperatures to destroy damaged portions of the retina. Like laser therapy, cryotherapy preserves central vision while eliminating peripheral vision.
In many cases, a combination of medications and laser therapy is the best path forward. Once Dr. Murthy performs a diagnostic assessment, he shares the details of all appropriate treatment options, enabling parents to make informed decisions about their infant’s care.
Booking an appointment is as simple as a phone call. Online scheduling is also an option, and allows you to book from the comfort of home, any time of day or night.