Baby blindness, also called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), is a condition that can occur in babies who are born very prematurely. The smaller and more premature the infant is, the higher the risk of developing ROP.
Baby blindness occurs because the blood vessels in a very premature baby's retina are not properly developed at birth. When the babies are exposed to additional oxygen to help them survive after birth, the oxygen also causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina, leading to scar tissue formation and even retinal detachment.
ROP develops in five stages. Stage 1 shows mild abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina. Stage 2 means there is moderate growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina, while Stage 3 shows severe abnormal blood vessel growth. Stage 4 ROP means that the retina is partially detached, while Stage 5 means the retina is completely detached.
An estimated 14,000 to 16,000 babies are born with ROP each year, and of that number 1 out of 10 babies will develop severe ROP leading to serious vision loss. Laser therapy is currently the most effective way to treat babies with ROP. The laser burns off the outer edges of the retina, which saves the infant's eyesight but also destroys the peripheral vision and can potentially cause blindness. An anti-cancer drug, Avastin, has been used by researchers to prevent ROP as well.
Preventing ROP is the best option because it is the only sure way to save the baby's vision. A February 2009 CBS News story reported on two promising experimental treatments some scientists are using to try to prevent baby's blindness. The first treatment, developed by Dr. Kenneth Wright at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, kept oxygen levels for premature babies constant and slightly lower than normal. The second experimental treatment, discovered by Dr. Lois Smith of Harvard Medical School, gave premature babies doses of a certain growth hormone called IGF-1 to protect them from developing ROP. However, these treatments still require further experimentation and research before they can be recommended as standard practice.
Having an infant develop baby's blindness is a very difficult experience for the entire family. Surgeries and treatments to treat this condition can be costly, often resulting in financial hardship. If your child suffers from baby's blindness, which may have resulted from improper medical treatment or negligence of the medical staff, you may have a legal cause of action to bring a birth injury lawsuit. Contact the experienced attorneys at Oshman & Mirisola, LLP today to schedule a consultation where you can explore your legal options and get your questions answered. For more than 35 years, our firm has successfully represented numerous clients in baby's blindness, cerebral palsy and other birth injury lawsuits. We have helped many families seek justice and get the compensation they deserve. Contact us today by calling (800) 400-8182 and ask for Partner Ted Oshman, or fill out and submit our online Contact us form to schedule a free initial consultation.