Premature Infant Retinal Disorder- Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
The eyes and brain work together with amazing efficiency. Light rays enter the front of the eye and are interpreted by the brain as images. Light rays first enter your child’s eye through the cornea, the “window” of the eye. The cornea is a clear dome that helps the eyes focus.
The anterior chamber is located behind the cornea and in front of the iris. The anterior chamber is filled with a fluid that maintains eye pressure, nourishes the eye, and keeps it healthy. The iris is the colored part of your child’s eye. Eye color varies from person to person and includes shades of blue, green, brown, and hazel. The iris contains two sets of muscles. The muscles work to make the pupil of the eye larger or smaller. The pupil is the black circle in the center of the iris. It changes size to allow more or less light to enter your child’s eye.
After light comes through the pupil, it enters the lens. The lens is a clear curved disc. Muscles adjust the curve in the lens to focus clear images on the retina. The retina is located at the back of your child’s eye.
The inner eye, the space between the posterior chamber behind the lens and the retina, is called the vitreous body. It is filled with a clear gel substance that gives the eye its shape. Light rays pass through the gel on their way from the lens to the retina.
The eyes contain more rods than cones. Rods work best in low light. Rods perceive blacks, whites, and grays, but not colors. They detect general shapes. Rods are used for night vision and peripheral vision. High concentrations of rods at the outer portions of the retina act as motion detectors in your child’s peripheral or side vision.
The receptor cells in the retina send nerve messages about what your child sees to the optic nerve. The optic nerves extend from the back of each eye and join together in the brain at the optic chiasm. From the optic chiasm, the nerve signals travel along two optic tracts, and eventually to the occipital cortex where vision is processed and perceived.
Many premature infants are able to attain healthy retinal blood vessel growth. However, a small percentage of premature infants develop more severe retinal problems. The smallest premature babies, regardless of gestational age, have the highest risk for ROP.
The majority of premature infants with mild ROP experience good recoveries. Children with visual problems from ROP may benefit from rehabilitation and vision aids. Because a possible outcome is blindness, early detection and early treatment are vital.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.