Pathophysiology of Retinopathy of Prematurity


  • İmren Akkoyun

Turk J Ophthalmol 2012;42(1):63-67

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), an ocular disease characterized by onset of vascular abnormalities in the developing retina, is the major cause of visual impairment and blindness in premature neonates. ROP is a complex multifactorial disease that occurs with microvascular degeneration followed by neovascularization which passing through different stages can progress to retinal detachment. Currently used ablative therapies like cryocoagulation and laser photocoagulation for proliferative ROP have limitations, and patients can still have long-term complications despite a successful treatment. Based on the knowledge regarding ROP pathophysiology, new treatment modalities are being developed. First results of intravitreal anti-VEGF therapy using bevacizumab are promising. Furthermore, besides intravitreal anti-VEGF therapy, systemic therapy with mediators like insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and/or ω3-fatty acids outlines the pharmacological approach to treatment of ROP. One of the most destructive manifestations of ROP is preretinal neovascularization. As we continue to decipher the underlying pathophysiological cellular mechanisms governing proliferative retinopathy, fostering normal retinal revascularization will open new therapeutic possibilities. All efforts should be focused on developing preventive strategies for ROP in order to avoid the need for nondestructive therapy modalities.

Keywords: Retinopathy of prematurity, pathophysiology

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