What Is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)?

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is an eye disease in some premature babies born before 31 weeks. (A full-term pregnancy is about 38–42 weeks.) It is a problem that affects the tissue at the back of the eye called the retina. The retina senses light and sends signals to the brain so you can see. With ROP, unwanted blood vessels grow on the baby’s retina. These blood vessels can cause serious eye and vision problems later.

ROP can go away on its own as an infant grows. If it does not go away, however, it needs to be treated. Otherwise, the child can have severe vision loss, or even go blind.

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