Early Treatment Keeps Eyes Safe
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- About 15,000 premature babies in the United States have an eye disease that can cause blindness if left untreated. In fact, it’s the leading cause of blindness in premature babies. But a new technique may help preserve their sight.
Twins Grace and Ryan see clearly now, but when they were born 11 weeks early, the blood vessels on their retinas stopped developing. It’s a condition called retinopathy of prematurity or ROP.
“If left untreated, there’s a possibility they could be blind in one or both eyes,” their mother, Amy May, says.
Laser therapy can reduce the risk of blindness in those premature eyes. But that treatment has risks. Doctors often wait until the growing blood vessels become a direct threat to an infant’s sight before using lasers.
“More and more of us began to believe that infants might benefit from treating with laser earlier and not waiting until threshold disease occurred,” says pediatric ophthalmologist David Wallace, M.D., of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A new study backs them up, showing that earlier treatment results in fewer cases of blindness. Dr. Wallace says, “We now have a better idea about the appropriate time for treatment and will feel better about intervening at the right time -- resulting in less blindness down the road.”
Grace and Ryan’s parents put them in the early treatment study, even though their risk of blindness was low. “That wasn’t a risk we wanted to take," Amy says. "We’d rather go ahead and try doing treatment rather than letting it go.” They knew the laser treatment could cost their twins some peripheral vision. But Amy says, “Losing a little peripheral vision is nothing compared to going completely blind.”
Even with treatment, about one-third of infants with severe ROP go blind. By treating these infants earlier, doctors hope to significantly reduce that number.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- About 15,000 premature babies in the United States have an eye disease that can cause blindness if left untreated. In fact, it’s the leading cause of blindness in premature babies. But a new technique may help preserve their sight.......
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