Understanding Mild and Severe Retinopathy
Proper monitoring and timely identification are the most important factors in preventing premature infant blindness due to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Current medical knowledge on ROP includes the identification of the five stages of the disease.
Understanding these stages is important for an attorney determined to uncover the facts about how this dangerous, potentially vision-destroying condition is misdiagnosed or left undiagnosed by medical professionals.
Mild to Moderate ROP: Stages 1, 2 and 3
In stage 1, an ophthalmologist may detect some abnormal blood vessel growth. We have heard this described as "seeing a line" that indicates normal blood vessels are not growing toward the edges of the retina. In stage 2, this line becomes more pronounced. Monitoring is important, but treatment may not be necessary in ROP cases that do not progress beyond this stage.
In stage 3 ROP, the physician can see that blood vessels are growing abnormally, toward the center of the eye rather than evenly across the surface. We have heard this described as the appearance of a "ridge." If the disease continues to progress, retinal detachment can result. Treatment—typically by laser therapy or cryotherapy—may be required to prevent these tragic outcomes.
Severe ROP and Retinal Detachment: Stages 4 and 5
Stage 4 is defined by a retina that has become partially detached due to the "traction," or pulling pressure, on it. The macula—the most sensitive part of the retina—may or may not have detached at this point, a distinction sometimes described as stage "4a" versus "4b."
Stage 5 ROP is complete retinal detachment. Leaking blood vessels and scarring have pulled the retina completely away from the rear eye wall and optic nerve. A lack of treatment at this point means severe vision loss or blindness. Reattachment surgery may be possible, but is not always recommended and not always successful.
At Freidin - Dobrinsky of Miami, Florida, We Do the Research and Build the Case
In our representation of twins rendered blind due to ROP—a case in which we teamed with co-counsel Mark Poses to obtain a $38 million jury verdict—our lawyers left no stone unturned. Since any medical malpractice case can hinge on the knowledge and experience of your lawyer, and we encourage you to contact us for a free informative legal consultation if your child is a victim of severe ROP.