Retinopathy of prematurity – etiopathogenesis and treatment
1 Department of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Public Health in Bytom, Medical University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland
2 Chorzow Centre of Paediatrics and Oncology, Chorzów, Poland
Correspondence: Barbara Rybus-Kalinowska, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Public Health in Bytom, Medical University of Silesia, Piekarska 18, 41-902 Bytom, Poland, tel.: +48 32 397 65 45, fax: +48 32 397 65 37, e-mail:
Pediatr Med Rodz 2017, 13 (1), p. 22–28
DOI: 10.15557/PiMR.2017.0002

Retinopathy of prematurity belongs to the group of proliferative retinopathies. It affects preterm infants with very low birth weight, treated with high concentrations of oxygen. It is estimated that retinopathy of prematurity leads to blindness in approximately 50,000 children per year worldwide. There were two epidemics of retinopathy of prematurity in the 50s and 70s of the last century. Another increase in the incidence, referred to as the third epidemic in the literature, has been observed in recent years in developing countries. So far, high oxygen concentrations used in adjuvant oxygen therapy have been considered to be the major risk factor for retinopathy of prematurity. There are, however, reports on the development of the disease in patients who received no oxygen therapy. Low birth weight and early gestational age are well-known risk factors for retinopathy of prematurity. Other important risk factors include sex, multiple pregnancy, intraventricular haemorrhage and blood transfusions. The disease can be prevented by screening performed by an ophthalmologist within a few weeks after birth. Laser retinal photocoagulation, which is primarily aimed to inhibit fibrovascular proliferation, is the standard therapy in infants with retinopathy of prematurity. Surgical treatment is necessary in the case of disease progression despite laser photocoagulation. Attempts are also made to use vascular endothelial growth factor blockers. The aim of the paper is to present the pathomechanism and the main factors involved in the development of retinopathy of prematurity as well as the current therapeutic approaches for this disease. This information is intended to help family doctors update their knowledge on retinopathy of prematurity.

Keywords: retinopathy of prematurity, etiopathogenesis, treatment