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


  1. Bell J. Early treatment benefits ROP-affected infants. EmoryReport. March 1, 2004.
  2. Khazaeni LM. Retinopathy of Prematurity. Last reviewed/modified February 2022.
  3. National Eye Institute. Retinopathy of Prematurity. Last updated June 24, 2022.
  4. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Retinopathy of Prematurity. Last updated November 4, 2021.
  5. NORD Rare Disease Database. Retinopathy of Prematurity.

URLs accessed 7/6/22.

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Scientific Council

Neil M. Bressler, MD

James P. Gills Professor of Ophthalmology
Professor of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Baltimore, MD

A. Paul Chous, MA, OD, FAAO

Specializing in Diabetes Eye Care & Education, Chous Eye Care Associates
Adjunct Professor of Optometry, Western University of Health Sciences
AOA Representative, National Diabetes Education Program
Tacoma, WA

Steven Ferrucci, OD, FAAO

Chief of Optometry, Sepulveda VA Medical Center
Professor, Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
Sepulveda, CA

Julia A. Haller, MD

Wills Eye Hospital
Philadelphia, PA

Allen C. Ho, MD, FACS

Director, Retina Research
Wills Eye Hospital
Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology
Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals
Philadelphia, PA

Charles C. Wykoff, MD, PhD

Director of Research, Retina Consultants of Houston
Associate Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology
Blanton Eye Institute & Houston Methodist Hospital
Houston, TX



Patient & Caregiver Educational Resources

The RELIEF Patient Toolkit is a blindness prevention resource center for caregivers of infants who have been diagnosed with or those who are interested in educating themselves about retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Choose from the options below to learn more.

This activity is provided by Med Learning Group. This activity is co-provided by Ultimate Medical Academy/Complete Conference Management (CCM). This activity is supported by an independent medical education grant from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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