The different types of retinopathy of prematurity surgeries work the same way, but they use different tools to remove the abnormal blood vessels and stop the process that could lead to retinal detachment and blindness.
Most cases of retinopathy of prematurity require no treatment. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), there are between 14,000 and 16,000 babies diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity each year. Only about 10% of them require treatment. The remaining 90% do not progress, the abnormal blood vessels resolve on their own, and the child’s vision develops normally.
A clinical trial found that when treatment is necessary, babies benefit from surgery that occurs as soon as possible instead of waiting, according to the Archives of Ophthalmology.
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Laser Therapy for Retinopathy of Prematurity
Laser therapy uses a laser to burn the outside edge of the retina, where the abnormal blood vessels are. While this does destroy some side vision, the abnormal blood vessels do not function properly, and this could preserve the child’s primary range of sight. When effective, laser therapy prevents further growth of abnormal blood vessels and prevents the retina from detaching.
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Cryotherapy for Retinopathy of Prematurity
Cryotherapy, which is also called cold therapy, does not use a laser for the removal of the peripheral edge of the affected retina or retinas. Instead, it utilizes a tool that produces freezing temperatures. The surgeon uses this tool to tap the surface of the eye near the diseased part of the retina, effectively freezing it and destroying the tissue.
The outcome, including damage to a portion of the child’s side vision, is generally the same as in laser therapy.
Alternative Treatments for Stage IV and Stage V Retinopathy of Prematurity
In advanced cases, when the retina has already begun to detach, different types of retinopathy of prematurity surgeries may not be effective. This could mean that alternative treatments are necessary. Options will depend on your child’s specific needs but could include:
- A scleral buckle, a small silicone band that prevents the vitreous gel inside the eye from putting pressure on the retina and causing further detachment, is used in Stage IV and Stage V retinopathy of prematurity.
- A vitrectomy is only used for the most serious Stage V cases of retinopathy of prematurity and requires replacing the vitreous gel inside the eye with saline to prevent damage to the retina.
Surgery to reattach a partially detached or fully detached retina may be necessary for Stage IV or Stage V diagnoses, as well. Children with severe cases of retinopathy of prematurity continue to be at risk of long-term visual loss or blindness through at least age 10. At this age, the study found that a third of eyes that received treatment were blind.
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Taking Action if Your Child Requires Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity
If your child received a retinopathy of prematurity diagnosis and now requires treatment, you may be able to build a medical negligence case against the doctor or hospital and hold them accountable. You will need to develop a strong case that proves they failed to provide the expected standard of care and caused, worsened, or failed to prevent your child’s birth injury. A birth injury attorney near you can help. Most offer free case assessments and work based on contingent fees.
A lawyer who represents families in retinopathy of prematurity cases will know how to navigate the medical malpractice laws in your state and seek compensation on your behalf. They will have a network of contacts they can use to identify and enlist a medical expert. The expert will review your child’s medical records and determine who committed medical negligence, when, and how. They can testify on your behalf, which is required in most states.
Your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement in your case without having to take the case to trial. You could recover compensation to help you pay for the surgery your child needs, care during their recovery, and even cover the income you lose as a result. Intangible damages are often recoverable, although there are caps on these damages in some states.
Get Help from the Birth Injury Lawyers Group Today for Free
You can learn more about your legal rights and the options you may have for pursuing and securing compensation during a free case review. Get help today by calling the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529. These initial consultations are always free for families whose child suffered a birth injury, including retinopathy of prematurity.