The serious risks of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) are related to the loss of vision. Full or partial retinal detachment can lead to vision loss or blindness, and surgery to correct the condition can affect side vision.
According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), retinopathy of prematurity is relatively rare overall. Of the 3.9 million babies born annually in the U.S., only between 14,000 and 16,000 premature or especially small infants—usually under 2 pounds and 12 ounces—receive a retinopathy of prematurity diagnosis.
Most have mild or moderate cases that resolve on their own and leave the child with normal vision. However, the NEI reports that each year between 1,100 and 1,500 babies have a more severe stage of retinopathy of prematurity. Those with Stage III, IV, or V retinopathy of prematurity may require surgery or other treatment to prevent permanent vision loss or blindness.
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Blindness Is the Most Serious Risk Associated with Retinopathy of Prematurity
It is not common for a retinopathy of prematurity diagnosis to lead to total blindness, although long-term visual loss may occur. NEI data shows that between 400 and 600 children a year are declared legally blind as a result of retinopathy of prematurity in the U.S. This generally occurs as a result of retinal detachment that cannot be repaired.
Children with retinopathy of prematurity may require surgery to reattach the retina.
In minor and moderate cases, retinopathy of prematurity generally regresses without treatment. Still, all children born prematurely, and especially those with retinopathy of prematurity, are at risk for other eye problems. This includes:
- Nearsightedness (myopia)
- A lazy eye (amblyopia)
- Crossed eyes (strabismus)
Some of these eye problems are treatable with things like corrective lenses or glasses, therapy, or corrective surgery.
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Premature Babies May Experience Other Conditions
While the serious risks of retinopathy of prematurity are limited to eye problems, babies born early or with very low birth weight may experience additional concerns. When a baby has a retinopathy of prematurity diagnosis, it may indicate other key developmental processes did not have time to complete during the baby’s shortened gestation.
Other neonatal concerns that may affect premature babies include:
- Neurological concerns including cerebral palsy
- Problems related to brain development, such as learning and communication delays
- A specific type of brain bleed known as an intraventricular hemorrhage
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia and other chronic respiratory conditions
- Hearing and vision problems
Pursuing a Birth Injury Case Based on Your Child’s Retinopathy of Prematurity
In some cases, medical negligence may cause or fail to prevent retinopathy of prematurity or allow the condition to progress unchecked. An attorney who handles birth injury claims in your state can evaluate your situation to determine if you may have a case against the doctor or hospital responsible for your child’s care.
Medical malpractice attorneys who accept birth injury cases generally represent injured children and their families based on a contingent fee. They handle all aspects of navigating the legal system under the rules set by your state’s medical malpractice statutes, seeking a payout on your family’s behalf.
This typically includes taking steps such as:
- Obtaining your child’s medical records
- Enlisting medical experts to review the records
- Assigning liability
- Documenting current and future medical expenses, losses, and more
In addition to your medical expenses, the recoverable damages in these cases may also include intangible losses your child experienced. This focuses on pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. Some states cap the financial recovery available for intangible damages.
Statute of Limitations
Most states also set timelines for how quickly you need to act to take legal action on your child’s behalf. While there is usually a general statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits, there are often exceptions for children’s injuries, such as a statute of repose for cases where the victim is a minor below a certain age. Your attorney can help you understand the deadline for filing suit in your case.
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The Birth Injury Lawyers Group Is Here to Help Your Family Today
Call (800) 222-9529 to get started right away. A representative of our firm can answer your questions and assess your case based on the circumstances surrounding your child’s birth and their diagnosis. You may be able to recover compensation to help you pay for treatment, other expenses, and intangible damages.