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ROP History

Events and Trends in the U.S. History of ROP

Vision-Destroying Disease Identified in the 1940s Is Still a Concern Today

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) was first identified in the early 1940s. For some time, it was called retrolental fibroplasia (RLF).

In the early 1950s, physicians and researchers identified a connection to the high levels of oxygen administered to premature infants. Too much oxygen produced abnormal blood cell development that sometimes led to retinal detachment and blindness. At that time, many believed that reducing levels of oxygen given to premature babies would permanently eliminate ROP.

Excessive Oxygen Proved To Be Just One Cause of ROP

Although ROP was not prevalent in the 1960s, it became a significant concern again in the 1970s. Advances in neonatology and medical technology had begun increasing survival rates for infants of very low birth weight—the babies most susceptible to ROP.

Clinical trials demonstrated that oxygen therapy was not to be the sole cause of this serious disease. Today, risk factors are better understood, but the causes of ROP have still not been fully isolated.

Progress in Understanding, Diagnosis and Treatment

A large-scale analysis known as the CRYO-ROP study was carried out in numerous U.S. hospitals in the 1980s. Many facts and statistics we rely upon today have origins in this study, which investigated the effectiveness of cryotherapy as a treatment for ROP. This procedure involves applying a probe to the eye wall to freeze portions of the retinal surface and stop abnormal cell growth.

Cryotherapy was found to be effective for many patients when intervention was timely. Today, laser therapy has become the preferred treatment in part because it allows more precise treatment of the retina.

Today, most high-risk hospitals and neonatology facilities are equipped to screen infants for ROP. The development of a standard for assessing the disease according to five stages has helped promote advancements in ROP research. Failure to diagnose the disease has become unacceptable under most circumstances.

We Are Proven Attorneys for Victims of Medical Negligence

At Freidin Dobrinsky Brown and Rosenblum, a respected Miami, Florida, area law firm, we strive to be the strongest possible legal resource for families of infants nationwide who do not receive proper ROP treatment. Please call our lawyers at 800-815-6232 or send an e-mail today if you or someone you know has had an infant suffer serious vision loss.

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