Retinopathy of Prematurity

Neonatal intensive care units now allow more babies than every before who were born very early to survive. Along with this increased survival rate comes an increase rate of complications of prematurity. One of the most devastating is retinopathy of prematurity.

During the time in the womb, the retina, or the tissue that absorbs the light and lines the back wall of the eye, undergoes vascularization or the in-growth of normal blood vessels. These blood vessels nourish the retina.

Unfortunately, if a baby is born too early, the blood vessels may not have reached all parts of the retina. While this prematurity of the vessels itself is enough to cause retinopathy of premature, the added stress of high concentrations of oxygen may aggravate the situation.

In the early stage of retinopathy of premature, a dividing line between tissue getting blood supply and the tissue not getting blood supply is created. This line can enlarge and abnormal blood vessels can grow on it. These abnormal blood vessels and other tissue can lead to scar formation. Significant scaring can cause the retina to pull off the back wall of the eye causing vision loss and even total blindness.

Dr. Andrews, at one time, handled all of the retinopathy of prematurity exams for two Brooklyn Hospitals and was the treating surgeon for four hospitals. Depending on the specific state of the retina, the eyes are watched closely, as often as twice a week, or undergo treatment. The types of treatment include laser treatment, vitrectomy surgery, or advanced open-sky retina surgery.

Dr. Andrews published an article entitled "Surgical Advances in Retinopathy of Prematurity" published in International Ophthalmology Clincis.

The newly formed Children's Hospital at SUNY Downstate has top-flight pediatric ophthalmology and retinopathy of prematurity care.

For more information or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 315 464-5252.