Most infants who are born about 2 months or more prematurely or have a low birth weight will have some degree of retinopathy of prematurity. Fortunately, the condition is often not serious, does not harm vision and subsides without the need for treatment. In some infants, however, the retinopathy of prematurity will develop very quickly and could cause vision loss or even blindness.
Over the years, doctors have identified many factors that seem to worsen the retinopathy of prematurity, such as the provision of excess oxygen to premature babies. Avoiding these factors has reduced the number of babies with severe retinopathy of prematurity, but has not eliminated the condition.
There is no way to predict which babies will develop the most severe forms of retinopathy of prematurity. That is why it is very important for all babies born at 32 weeks or earlier, weighing less than 1,500 grams at birth or whose neonatologist considers them to be a high risk of being examined by a pediatric ophthalmologist.