How common is ROP?
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is a rare eye disorder occurring in about 14,000-16,000 preterm infants (or preemies) per year in the United States.1 ROP typically develops in both eyes.2 Although the majority of cases are mild and recover on their own without permanent injury, a small percentage of preemies with more severe ROP will need treatment.3,4 Even with treatment, approximately 400-600 infants each year become legally blind from ROP.1
The highest risk factors for developing ROP include preterm birth and low birth weight; the smaller an infant is at birth increases the likelihood of developing ROP.3,5 Other risk factors that can contribute to the development of ROP include anemia (low red blood cell count), blood transfusions, breathing difficulties and overall health of the infant.3,4 In the 1940’s and 1950’s, ROP development was also linked to high levels of oxygen given to preemies, however, newer technology and methods to monitor oxygen levels have helped reduce this as a risk factor.5
- Bell J. Early treatment benefits ROP-affected infants. EmoryReport. March 1, 2004. https://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/erarchive/2004/March/march%201/3_1_04early.html
- Khazaeni LM. Retinopathy of Prematurity. Last reviewed/modified February 2022. https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/eye-defects-and-conditions-in-children/retinopathy-of-prematurity
- National Eye Institute. Retinopathy of Prematurity. Last updated June 24, 2022. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/retinopathy-prematurity
- American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Retinopathy of Prematurity. Last updated November 4, 2021. https://aapos.org/glossary/retinopathy-of-prematurity
- NORD Rare Disease Database. Retinopathy of Prematurity. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/retinopathy-of-prematurity/
URLs accessed 7/6/22.