Why Do Preemies Need Treatment For ROP?
Premature or low-birth weight babies are at-risk for developing retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). ROP occurs because blood vessels in the eyes develop outside of the womb. These conditions are not optimal, and with ROP, blood vessels grow abnormally. If left untreated, this abnormal growth may cause retinal detachment and permanent blindness.
ROP may also resolve on its own without treatment. However, there is no way for doctors to know beforehand if ROP will not progress. Once ROP reaches a certain threshold, the risk of retinal detachment and blindness increase substantially. For these reasons, it is very important for preemies to receive treatments like laser therapy, which stop abnormal blood vessel growth and prevent blindness.
What Can Happen When Preemies Do Not Receive Treatment for ROP?
It helps to understand what happens when preemies do not receive treatment for ROP. The consequences of not receiving treatment are very apparent in the developing world. In many countries, there are no specialists or equipment to prevent this condition from progressing. Preemies born in these countries who develop ROP are more likely to suffer permanent vision loss than those born in the US. This makes ROP one of the primary causes of preventable blindness in the world.
Unfortunately, there are harmful rumors about ROP treatment. One of the most harmful is that laser therapy is unnecessarily risky, and should only be a last resort. This misconception is incredibly harmful to preemies and their families. A failure to treat this condition means preemies may be disabled for life.
Failing to treat ROP may be medical malpractice. The medical community has a standard protocol for treating this condition. Parents of preemies blinded by ROP should contact a medical malpractice attorney to explore legal options.