The age at which retinopathy of prematurity was first seen was determined in 143 infants. In all, the initial ophthalmological examination was normal. Birth weights varied from 630 to 2700 g and gestational ages from 24.5 to 40.0 weeks. The median postnatal age at which acute retinopathy of prematurity was first seen was 51 and 40 days for those less than 28 and greater than or equal to 28 weeks' gestational age, respectively, and this difference is highly significant. Similar results were obtained when infants were grouped according to birth weight less than 1000 or greater than or equal to 1000 g. Using postmenstrual age as the variable, the first signs of retinopathy of prematurity were seen over a fairly narrow age range and 86% of infants developed retinopathy between 32.5 and 38.5 weeks of age. These findings suggest that the age (but not the occurrence or severity) at which retinopathy of prematurity is first seen is controlled predominantly by stage of development rather than neonatal events.
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