Q: How can I tell if my premature newborn has Retinopathy of Prematurity?
Unfortunately, there's no real visible way for you to know if your baby has Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). The blood vessel changes related to ROP cannot be seen with the naked eye and it is up to the doctor to perform an eye exam to see if there are any problems. Sometimes, if the child has especially severe ROP, there may be certain things that can indicate a problem, including:
- Crossed eyes
- Abnormal eye movements
- White-looking pupils
- Severe nearsightedness
If a baby is born before it reaches 30 weeks or if it is born weighing less than 3lbs, the child is at high-risk for ROP and should have a retinal exam. The first exam will usually be 4–9 weeks after birth, depending on how old the baby was when it was born. If a baby is born at 27 weeks or later, their exam can take place after about 4 weeks. The younger babies need to wait a little longer so the eyes have a chance to grow and possibly correct on their own outside of the womb. If the first test shows that the baby's blood vessels are fine and everything has developed normally, they will not need a follow-up exam.
If the doctor determines ROP is present after the eye exam, they will develop a treatment plan. This treatment plan should start within 72 hours of the eye exam because when treated immediately, babies have a much better chance at beating this disease.
Did a doctor fail to diagnose or treat your child's ROP and now they are blind or suffering from severe visual impairment? Victims in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas can contact Girards Law for a free consultation at 888.897.2762.