Only a relatively small number of cases of retinopathy of prematurity lead to total vision loss. Most premature infants diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity experience only mild or moderate abnormal blood vessel growth. The body can reverse the process, develop proper blood flow to the retina, and as a result, the child develops normal vision.
In more advanced cases, more abnormal blood vessels or complications make treatment necessary. Failing to intervene, or in instances where surgery does not work, and the child’s retina fully detaches, total vision loss is possible.
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Pursuing a Birth Injury Case Based on Your Child’s Vision Loss
If your child has long-term vision loss or is legally blind due to retinopathy of prematurity or another birth injury, your family may be able to secure a financial recovery. You can find out if your case is strong enough to hold the doctor or hospital responsible by speaking with a birth injury attorney who represents victims near you.
They will evaluate the details of your child’s case, determine if malpractice occurred, and represent you based on contingency if they believe they can help you hold the doctor responsible.
Your attorney will know how to navigate the legal system in your state, including the necessary evidence to prove your case and any applicable deadlines. They may be able to negotiate a settlement on your family’s behalf to cover your child’s current and future medical bills, your family’s financial losses, and the related intangible damages.
Developing a birth injury case generally requires obtaining all related medical records and enlisting the help of a doctor for an expert review of your records and the treatment your child received before and after birth.
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Retinopathy of Prematurity Is Common in At-Risk Newborns
According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), there are around 28,000 premature babies born in the U.S. each year who weigh 2 pounds, 12 ounces or less. At least half of these babies born with a very low birth weight will experience some stage of retinopathy of prematurity. About 90 percent fall under Stage I, II, or the low end of Stage III, which requires observation but no intervention.
For those who have milder forms of the condition, no treatment is necessary. Their condition will regress, and the blood vessels can grow properly to the periphery of the retina, providing normal vision and no lasting effects.
However, those with more serious stages of the condition can suffer impaired vision or total vision loss. These children, 1,100 to 1,500 annually, require surgery or other treatment to intervene and stop further damage to their eyes. Even with treatment, between 400 and 600 infants lose their sight to retinopathy of prematurity every year.
Total Vision Loss Is Not the Only Possible Effect of Retinopathy of Prematurity
While not many cases of retinopathy of prematurity lead to total vision loss, many of these children have additional eye or vision concerns. The surgeries used to address retinopathy of prematurity eliminate the periphery of the retina, and children often develop nearsightedness (myopia) as a result.
Other eye problems are tied to prematurity, either because of concerns with brain development, muscle control, or other vision issues. This includes:
- An early need for corrective lenses, either from farsightedness (hyperopia) or nearsightedness (myopia)
- Crossed eyes (strabismus)
- Lazy eye (amblyopia)
- Cortical visual impairments
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Children with Severe Retinopathy of Prematurity May Have Ongoing Vision Concerns
Undergoing surgery for retinopathy of prematurity is not a cure-all when it comes to the condition. The surgery itself can cause concerns, but the condition can also continue to contribute to vision concerns. For example, according to The Lancet, about 80% of children who received a diagnosis of severe retinopathy of prematurity as babies developed strabismus before age 6, regardless of treatment or treatment method.
There are also continued threats that could lead to long-term visual loss or blindness in these children. The Lancet documents a study that shows a third of children who underwent surgery for retinopathy of prematurity—and as many as half of those who did not—were legally blind by age 10.
Discuss Your Options with the Birth Injury Lawyers Group Today
Your family can get help today by calling the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at
(800) 222-9529. We provide free case reviews and evaluate your options based on the facts of your child’s diagnosis and the circumstances surrounding their birth. We have someone standing by now to answer your call and assess your case. Call today.