Treating Some Infants for Retinopathy

NEW YORK, May 4 (UPI) — U.S. doctors suggest some premature infants may benefit from early treatment of their retinopathy of prematurity.

Retinopathy of prematurity, also known as retrolental fibroplasia, is an eye disease that affects premature babies believed to be caused by disorganized growth of retinal blood vessels.

Researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital said more than 90 percent of babies of the estimated 15,000 U.S. babies born each year with retinopathy of prematurity do not require treatment.

The study, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, finds the small percentage with a more severe form of the disease benefitted from treatment to slow or stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye using laser therapy or cryotherapy — the use of freezing temperatures.

“We showed there isn’t a single treatment strategy that works for all infants with retinopathy of prematurity, but rather that doctors need to determine whether the baby has a mild or severe form of the disease before proceeding with retinal surgery,” study co-author Dr. Michael Chiang says in a statement. “This can be determined with a simple bedside exam using an ophthalmoscope to look at blood vessels in the retina.”

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