Retinopathy of prematurity is common among the subset of newborns affected by the condition, although most babies are not at an increased risk. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), about 14,000 to 16,000 infants born in the U.S. each year have retinopathy of prematurity. Most—up to 90%—have a mild or moderate stage of the condition.
Babies born early or who have very low birth weight are generally the only ones at risk of retinopathy of prematurity. Of the 3.9 million babies born nationally each year, about 28,000 fall into the at-risk category, weighing 2 pounds and 12 ounces or less. About half of those babies will receive a diagnosis, making it a very common condition affecting the smallest babies.
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Most Children Do Not Experience Advanced Symptoms or Complications
Of the 14,000 or more retinopathy of prematurity diagnoses each year, the vast majority are Stage I or Stage II. In other words, they have minor or moderate abnormalities in the blood vessels of the eye that usually clear up on their own without any lasting issues.
Some babies have more serious cases that require intervention, including the three most advanced stages of the condition:
- Stage III: Severe abnormal blood vessel development continues and puts the retina at risk of detaching.
- Stage IV: The retina begins to detach or partially detach.
- Stage V: The retina detaches.
Even with treatment, sometimes the damage has already been done, or the treatment does not stop the progression of damage to the eye. As a result, hundreds of infants are diagnosed legally blind each year in the United States because of retinopathy of prematurity.
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Many Children with Retinopathy of Prematurity Experience Other Vision Issues
Not only is retinopathy of prematurity common among babies born with low birth weight, but the condition plus their prematurity may also put them at additional risk for other eye problems and vision concerns. These conditions and concerns may develop after successful surgery for retinopathy of prematurity or even because of the surgery.
Many children who undergo laser therapy for retinopathy of prematurity need glasses for myopia (nearsightedness). They are also at an increased risk for hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. Prematurity itself is a risk factor for additional conditions that affect vision, including:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Cortical visual impairment
Because of their early birth and very low birth weight, children at risk for retinopathy of prematurity may also experience other medical conditions. Intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, respiratory concerns, and seizures are a few of the preventable birth injuries that may co-occur in these children.
Developing a Case for Compensation Based on Retinopathy of Prematurity
Developing a case to prove that medical negligence caused your child’s birth injury can be complex. Each state has its own medical malpractice laws, including rules for proving negligence, complying with deadlines, and the legal process in general.
Many families choose to work with a medical malpractice birth injury attorney to assign liability and negotiate with the legal teams representing the doctor or hospital. This process may lead to an out-of-court settlement, or the case may go to trial.
Hiring an Expert
Many states require a medical expert to review your case and testify under oath that medical negligence occurred. This testimony is often a key part of navigating the legal system and building a case.
Your attorney will likely need to compile your child’s relevant medical records and identify a medical expert who will review them and help you prove your medical malpractice case. Many law firms have a network of expert witnesses they can contact for this reason.
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We Work on Contingency
We, like most birth injury lawyers, work based on contingency, meaning we only collect fees after we secure financial recovery for our clients. This payment plan may allow your family to seek and recover damages for your child’s medical care and future care expenses, your time away from work, out-of-pocket expenses, and intangible damages.
Hire an Attorney Who Handles Birth Injury Cases Near You
If your child has retinopathy of prematurity diagnosis, you can get help today. Reach out to the Birth Injury Lawyers Group now to speak with a team member who can assess the facts of your case and determine your legal recourse. Call (800) 222-9529 to get started right away.