The incidence of ophthalmologic interventions in children with birth weights less than 1251 grams: Results through 5 1/2 years

Michael X. Repka, C. Gail Summers, Earl A. Palmer, Velma Dobson, Betty Tung, Barry Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective: This study aimed to report the frequency of ophthalmologic surgical and medical therapies provided to children with birth weights less than 1251 g who had all stages of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). In addition, this study aimed to report the initial age at which such procedures are provided and to report the frequency of cerebrospinal fluid shunts. Design: Observational case series with prospective data collection. Participants: Children from the Multicenter Trial of Cryotherapy for Retinopathy of Prematurity (CRYO-ROP) with birth weights less than 1251 g served as subjects. Group A included 257 children from all 23 CRYO-ROP study centers who had threshold ROP, who had participated in the randomized trial of cryotherapy, and who had survived to age 1 year. Group B included 1208 children from 5 of the 23 study centers who had varying severity of ROP (69 had threshold ROP) and who had participated in a 5 1/2 -year study of the natural history of ROP. Main Outcome Measures: Investigators documented medical and surgical ophthalmologic interventions through age 5 1/2 years as well as cerebrospinal fluid shunting surgery for hydrocephalus through age 2 years. Results: Group A was composed of 257 children with threshold ROP who underwent 226 ocular interventions in addition to cryotherapy (0.9 intervention per child). The most common treatments performed on the randomized cohort of children were vitrectomy (26% of patients), lensectomy (18%), amblyopia therapy (20%), and strabismus surgery (10%). Cataract surgery not associated with vitrectomy was performed infrequently (2%) and was performed equally often in treated and control eyes. Amblyopia therapy was prescribed as often for treated as for control eyes. Cerebrospinal fluid shunts were placed in 11% of these children. Group B was composed of 1208 natural history patients who underwent 239 ophthalmologic interventions (0.4 intervention per child). Strabismus surgery was the most commonly performed procedure for the natural history cohort of children (6% of the children). Amblyopia therapy was prescribed for 7% of the natural history patients. Cerebrospinal fluid shunts were required by 3% of the natural history infants, more often in children with more severe ROP. Conclusions: These premature infants underwent a large number of ophthalmologic treatments during the first 5 1/2 years of life. The long-term costs of both extreme prematurity and ROP include not only the initial ablative therapy for ROP and societal loss due to blindness that still occurs in some cases, but also the ongoing costs of caring for eye problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1621-1627
Number of pages7
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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