Introduction Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) occurs in the retina of preterm infants due to incomplete retinal vascularisation. The National Eye Institute in the USA reports a yearly incidence of 0.4%. ROP remains an important cause of severe visual disability.
Aims To assess the incidence, investigation, screening programme, management and outcomes of ROP of at risk infants over a two year period (2006–2007) in a regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Methods A retrospective chart review was performed and the selection criteria included infants born ⩽31 weeks gestation and/or of ⩽1,500 g birth weight. All ophthalmic examinations were carried out by a single ophthalmologist using standardised protocols, with the first examination performed between the 4th and 7th week of the postnatal period.
Results 1181 infants were admitted to our NICU during the period of January 2006 to December 2007. 53 infants (4.5%) fulfilled the predefined selection criteria. 16/53 infants (30%) were found to have ROP of varying degrees. 7/53 infants (44%) required treatment by laser therapy. No infants required surgery. Three infants died in the immediate postnatal period. Four were transferred to other centres prior to screening. All infants were followed up to complete regression of ROP.
Conclusion The study determined an ROP incidence of 1.35% in all infants admitted to the NICU in two years. The study demonstrated a lower incidence (30%) of ROP in infants with predefined risk factors as compared to other international multi-centred studies (36.4% Swedish, 68% American). UK and Irish figures are still not clearly defined to date.