ROP/RLF Adults


Adult Retinopathy of Prematurity (formerly known as Retrolental Fibroplasia)

The immediate vision threat of retinopathy of prematurity to infants has been well described and is appreciated by many people today. However, the continuing ocular problems of children born prematurely who may not have had severe vision-threatening changes early in life is also a concern.

In the not distant past, studies of children whose birth weights were less than four to five pounds have been found to have an increased risk of ocular problems, specifically retinal problems including retinal detachment and retinal tears.

These present with the customary symptoms of flashing lights, debris floating through the vision, or a “black curtain” coming into the side of the vision. Although prematurely born adults are not unique in the development of retinal detachment, they do have a much higher occurrence and lower success rate than the non-premature adult when treated for either retinal tear or retinal detachment. So much so that the failure rates are in excess of 25% for both procedures.

Fortunately however, with re-operation the success rates return to a much higher level. If someone is a prematurely born individual and develops these types of problems, it is wise to advise the physician of their premature birth as a more aggressive initial treatment may reduce the need for re-operation.