Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

Please read our important medical disclaimer.

Question:
How and why do they do eye tests on premature babies?  

Answer:
Premature babies are at risk for developing Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) which is the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina. This occurs in premature infants due to the fact that the developing retina requires specific and controlled levels of oxygen to develop properly. When preterm infants are exposed to higher levels of oxygen (such as in the environment or supplemental oxygen which helps them survive), their retinal blood vessels can grow erroneously resulting in bleeding and scar tissue formation. This condition occurs with greater frequency and severity in lower birth weight babies born at a younger age. The examinations help determine if the infant is affected. In certain cases, treatment with laser can reduce or prevent the risk of blindness in these children.

Answered by: John Kitchens, MD Dr. John W. Kitchens

Categories: Children's Eye Health

Have a question that hasn't been answered yet? Ask it!

Answered: Nov 04, 2012

Pop needs to be configured.