Another constant concern for parents of premature babies is retinopathy of prematurity. This is a disease that at its worst can cause blindness in babies born prematurely. It is normally associated with excessive oxygen exposure from the ventilation. You will notice on your baby’s monitor that the oxygen saturation in the baby’s blood is monitored. A little red light is taped to your baby’s foot or wrist. This is called pulse oximetry, and it measures the oxygen saturation level in the baby’s blood and also gives a pulse reading. The display on the monitor for oxygen saturation will be a range with an upper and lower limit.
Often as the baby grows the amount of oxygen it is on is weaned down. The baby’s lungs have developed and become more efficient, reducing the need for supplemental oxygen. Ultimately the oxygen input can be weaned down to 21%, i.e., the same as fresh air. When this happens, the upper limit may be increased to 100% as there is no further option to wean down the oxygen. Often at this point, the baby is approaching a point where it will no longer require ventilation.
A while ago when ventilation was new and exploratory, it was unrealistic to gauge the oxygen immersion levels. Many children were over-presented to oxygen and went visually impaired as a result. It is assessed that around 10,000 infants went visually impaired as an outcome of ROP, or what was called retrolental fibroplasia in those days. For a long time, the reason was obscure. It was normal practice in the 1940s pipe in oxygen into the hatchery for untimely children that experienced difficulty relaxing.
The connection amongst this and the resulting increment in visual impairment was not made for over ten years. Stevie Wonder is presumably the most popular sufferer of ROP, despite the fact that his visual deficiency isn’t completely inferable from the oxygen drew into his hatchery. As of late the circumstances and results between an excessive amount of oxygen and retinopathy have been tested. It is, be that as it may, at present the acknowledged insight and as far as possible is observed intently.
Testing for ROP
Throughout your baby’s stay in the NICU and Special Care, she will undergo routine tests for retinopathy of prematurity. Even after discharge, you may often be asked back for follow-up examinations either at the hospital or an eye-specialist. Often the test is quite disturbing to witness for the parent. The specialist needs to look through to the back of the eyeball to see if the retina has detached. The baby will have had drops administered before the examination to dilate the pupils. Often the parents are not advised to be present during the examination. From watching the monitor though it is clear that the stress level for the baby is not great if the specialist is a good operator. Like most things, a dose of sucrose will take the baby’s mind off what is happening.
Although the causes of retinopathy of prematurity are still contentious, the increased awareness means that the condition will rarely go undiagnosed and treatment for the condition exists. Tests generally start at six weeks and continue two-weekly until discharge. Like most things, the earlier the condition is caught, the better the outlook. Laser treatment generally affect treatment. The surgeon will try to remove the fluid between the retina and the eyeball and reattach it.