A simple guide on Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) screening

What is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)?

Retinopathy of Prematurity or ROP is an eye disorder affecting the retina's blood vessels. The retina is a tissue that forms a lining at the back of the eye. It detects light and helps you see.

This disorder primarily affects low-weight, premature infants. Therefore, timely screening and treatment of ROP can prevent blindness in children.

Is ROP common?

Recent studies in India have reported ROP in 20% to 30% of screened neonates (infants less than four weeks old).

Nearly half of the neonates undergoing screening may show a mild degree of ROP, which settles on its own in most infants. In a few, it proceeds to the stage of blindness.

ROP screening at the right time can save your child a lot of trouble in the future.

What leads to ROP?

The significant risk factors that lead to the development of ROP are:

  1. Premature birth
  2. Low birth weight

ROP can be easily detected with ROP screening.

What is ROP screening?

ROP screening is an eye examination done by an ophthalmologist (an eye specialist) to look for any signs of ROP. If ROP is detected at the right time, it can be treated.

Who needs to undergo ROP screening?

ROP screening is essential for

  1. Every baby weighing less than 2000 g at birth
  2. Every baby is less than four weeks old.

Most infants need at least two screenings, while some require only one.

How is ROP screening done?

  1. The ophthalmologist will put eye drops in your baby's eyes 30 minutes before the screening.
  2. The eye drops widely open the pupil and makes the retina easily visible.
  3. The eye drops contain drugs that can dilate (widen) the pupil. Phenylephrine, Tropicamide, Cyclopentolate, and methyl cellulose are commonly used drugs.
  4. An ophthalmoscope or a wide-field digital camera is placed on your baby's eye to observe the retina.
  5. To get a better view of the retina, a speculum is used to hold the eyelid open, and an indentor is used to rotate the eye.

Is the screening painful for your baby?

The ROP screening can be uncomfortable for your baby but saves them from a lot of trouble in the future.

Some measures to keep your baby comfortable during the screening are:

  1. Feed your baby an hour before the screening and wrap them in a cloth.
  2. Sucrose drops are given orally to keep your baby calm.
  3. If the ophthalmologist uses a speculum, an indentor, or a camera, anaesthetic eye drops are used to minimise the discomfort.
  4. The nurses at the unit are well-trained to prepare your baby for the screening.
  5. A pulse oximeter is connected to your baby to monitor the oxygen level.

What happens if ROP is detected in the screening?

If ROP is detected in the screening, the follow-up plan will depend on how serious the condition is.

  1. If it is mild, a follow-up examination is needed two weeks later. If it then shows that ROP is still mild, it will likely settle on its own.
  2. A severe ROP will require re-examination within a week.
  3. In rare cases, the ROP may be severe and require treatment.

The opthalmologist will help you understand what's best for your baby in all three cases mentioned above.


ROP can be treated if it is detected at the right time, and ROP screening plays an important role in timely detection. The risk of ROP is the lowest when the screening is done at its earliest. Our specialists will guide you throughout the screening procedure and ensure your child lives a healthy life.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Hyderabad - Kondapur. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. Are all infants at risk of ROP?

All premature and underweight infants are at risk of ROP. However, if you're a first-time parent, we recommend you discuss the ROP screening with a doctor.

2. Why does ROP occur?

The blood vessels of a newborn's retina are not fully developed and begin to grow abnormally if the baby is born prematurely. The main cause is prematurity.

3. Is it safe to screen all babies?

Yes. ROP screening is entirely safe when performed by an ophthalmologist trained in ROP screening. Apollo Cradle assures a safe and smooth screening for all babies.

4. Is it essential to take follow-ups if my baby is detected with mild ROP?

If the ophthalmologist suggests a follow-up for your baby, you must do so.

5. What if my baby is ill on the day of the screening?

The doctor will ensure your baby feels well before the screening. If not, the screening can be postponed.

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