As a parent, one of the toughest experiences you face is seeing your child poked, prodded and in pain. While of course they assure you the child isn't hurting, hearing your little one scream during the weekly eye exams for preemies goes to the top of the list of difficult challenges.
On Tuesday we went to visit Doctor Moshfeghi at Stanford's Byers Eye Institute - the exam itself only takes about 5 minutes, but the process is excrutiating - check out those tools!
Dr M is checking for ROP - Retinopathy of Prematurity. Because Emme was born before 32 weeks, she is at higher risk to suffer blindess/ vision issues related to ROP, but because she was a healthy weight of 3lbs 5 ounces at birth, that risk decreases.
According to the NIH, there are multiple stages of ROP. So far, Emme's results have come back as "immature/inconclusive" which is good - not showing any signs of ROP.
Are there different stages of ROP?
Yes. ROP is classified in five stages, ranging from mild (stage I) to severe (stage V):
Stage I — Mildly abnormal blood vessel growth. Many children who develop stage I improve with no treatment and eventually develop normal vision. The disease resolves on its own without further progression.
Stage II — Moderately abnormal blood vessel growth. Many children who develop stage II improve with no treatment and eventually develop normal vision. The disease resolves on its own without further progression.
Stage III — Severely abnormal blood vessel growth. The abnormal blood vessels grow toward the center of the eye instead of following their normal growth pattern along the surface of the retina. Some infants who develop stage III improve with no treatment and eventually develop normal vision. However, when infants have a certain degree of Stage III and “plus disease” develops, treatment is considered. “Plus disease” means that the blood vessels of the retina have become enlarged and twisted, indicating a worsening of the disease. Treatment at this point has a good chance of preventing retinal detachment.
Stage IV — Partially detached retina. Traction from the scar produced by bleeding, abnormal vessels pulls the retina away from the wall of the eye.
Stage V — Completely detached retina and the end stage of the disease. If the eye is left alone at this stage, the baby can have severe visual impairment and even blindness.
Most babies who develop ROP have stages I or II. However, in a small number of babies, ROP worsens, sometimes very rapidly. Untreated ROP threatens to destroy vision.