Treatments for ROP

Laser Treatment: A laser is used to create small burns in the outer areas of the retina to slow or reverse abnormal blood vessel growth.1,2

Injected Medication: Medications called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors, also known as anti-VEGF agents, are injected into the eye.2 They interfere with the signals that promote abnormal blood vessel growth, stop the formation of abnormal blood vessels and prompt their regression.3-7 This may allow normal blood vessels to grow to the edge of the retina.7 Anti-VEGF medication aflibercept received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in early 2023, making it the first approved anti-VEGF therapy available for the treatment of premature infants with ROP.8 Additional anti-VEGF medications continue to be studied for treatment of ROP.9

Freezing Treatment (Cryotherapy): A cold instrument is used to freeze affected parts of the retina to stop abnormal blood vessel growth.10,11

Surgery (Vitrectomy, scleral buckle): A surgery may be needed to repair the retina if it peels away from the back of the eye (retinal detachment).12 A silicone support band, called a scleral buckle, may be used to maintain the retina in proper position.13


  1. Laser therapy for retinopathy of prematurity. Laser ROP Study Group. Arch Ophthalmol. 1994;112(2):154-156.
  2. National Eye Institute. Retinopathy of Prematurity. Last updated June 24, 2022.
  3. Mintz-Hittner HA, Kennedy KA, Chuang AZ; BEAT-ROP Cooperative Group. Efficacy of intravitreal bevacizumab for stage 3+ retinopathy of prematurity. N Engl J Med. 2011; 364(7):603-615.
  4. Stahl A, Lepore D, Fielder A, et al. Ranibizumab versus laser therapy for the treatment of very low birthweight infants with retinopathy of prematurity (RAINBOW): an open-label randomized controlled trial. Lancet. 2019;394(10208):1551-1559.
  5. Mintz-Hittner HA. Intravitreal pegaptanib as adjunctive treatment for stage 3+ ROP shown to be effective in a prospective, randomized, controlled multicenter clinical trial. Eur J Ophthalmol. 2012 Sep-Oct;22(5):685-686.
  6. Sankar MJ, Sankar J, Chandra P. Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs for treatment of retinopathy of prematurity. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;8(1):CD009734.
  7. Tran K, Cernichiaro-Espinosa LA, Berrocal A. Management of Retinopathy of Prematurity- Use of VEGF Therapy. Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology. 2018;7:56-62.
  8. Press Release. Aflibercept (Eylea®). February 8, 2023.
  9. Roach L. Fighting ROP with anti-VEGF therapy. EyeNet. March 2019.
  10. Multicenter trial of cryotherapy for retinopathy of prematurity. Preliminary results. Cryotherapy for Retinopathy of Prematurity Cooperative Group. Arch Ophthalmol. 1988;106(4):471-479.
  11. Palmer EA, Hardy RJ, Dobson V, et al; 15-year outcomes following threshold retinopathy of prematurity: Final results from the multicenter, trial of cryotherapy for retinopathy of prematurity. Arch Ophthalmol. 2005;123(3): 311-318.
  12. Repka MX, Tung B, Good WV, et al. Outcome of eyes developing retinal detachment during the Early Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity Study (ETROP). Arch Ophthalmol. 2006;124(1):24-30.
  13. Hansen ED, Hartnett ME. A review of treatment for retinopathy of prematurity. Expert Rev Ophthalm 2019;14(2):73-87.
  14. Ruan L, Shan HD, Liu XZ, Huang X. Refractive status of Chinese with laser-treated retinopathy of prematurity. Optom Vis Sci. 2015;92(4 suppl 1):S3-S9.
  15. Devgiri Memorial Superspecialty Eye Clinic. Intravitreal Anti VEGF Injection.
  16. The Retina Institute. Cryopexy.
  17. Vitreous Retina Macula Consultants of New York. Scleral Buckle.

All 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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