Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 90:F240-FF244 doi:10.1136/adc.2004.057570
  • Original article

UK population based study of severe retinopathy of prematurity: screening, treatment, and outcome

  1. L Haines1,
  2. A R Fielder2,
  3. H Baker1,
  4. A R Wilkinson3
  1. 1Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, Imperial College London, UK
  3. 3Department of Paediatrics, John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor Wilkinson
    Department of Paediatrics, John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK;
  • Accepted 22 November 2004


Background: Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is one of the few causes of childhood blindness in which severe vision impairment is largely preventable. Ophthalmic screening for ROP is required to identify disease that requires treatment whereby the development of potentially blinding disease can be minimised.

Objectives: To make the first UK population based estimate of the incidence of babies with severe ROP (stage 3 or more); to document their clinical characteristics and management and to evaluate the appropriateness of current ROP screening guidelines in the UK.

Patients: Cases were recruited through a national surveillance programme with 1 year ophthalmic follow up and data from clinician completed questionnaires.

Results: Between 1 December 1997 and 31 March 1999, 233 preterm babies with stage 3 ROP were identified. Severity (location, extent, and presence of plus disease) was associated with degree of prematurity, most severe in the most premature babies. Fifty nine percent were treated. The UK screening protocol was followed in two thirds of cases, but in the remainder it was begun too late or was too infrequent. Three quarters of the cases were followed up at 1 year, and 13% had a severe vision deficit as a result of ROP.

Conclusions: Visual deficit as a result of ROP in premature babies continues to be a severe disability in some of the survivors of neonatal intensive care. Further efforts are needed to organise treatment regionally to improve outcome and standards of practice.


  • The study was funded by the Department of Health of England who did not play any part in the design, collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data.

  • Competing interests: none declared

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