Screening and treatment in retinopathy of prematurity

Andreas Stahl*, Wolfgang Göpel

*Corresponding author for this work
9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: More than 11 000 children are examined for possible retinopathy of prematurity in Germany each year, and 2–5% of them are treated for it. Even though screening and treatment programs are in place, the affected children can still suffer visual impairment.

Methods: In this article, we summarize the pathogenesis, screening, and treatment of retinopathy of prematurity on the basis of a selective review of pertinent literature, retrieved by a PubMed search. The article centers on publications from 2011 to 2015 on the new option of treatment with VEGF inhibitors and discusses it in comparison to laser therapy.

Results: All premature neonates with a low gestational age at birth, low birth weight, or prolonged exposure to supplemental oxygen must undergo screening by an ophthalmologist. Laser therapy is effective for stages 1–3 and for aggressive posterior retinopathy of prematurity. Its disadvantages are the induction of scarring and the development of severe myopia in 17–40% of the children so treated. Anti-VEGF treatment (VEGF = vascular endothelial growth factor) does not induce any visible scarring and seems to cause less myopia, but long-term data on safety, dosing, and the choice of anti-VEGF drug are still lacking.

Conclusion: The available evidence for anti-VEGF treatment is on a much lower level than the evidence for laser therapy. Anti-VEGF may be a way to avoid the disadvantages of laser therapy (scarring and severe myopia). Unlike laser therapy, however, the intravitreal injection of VEGF inhibitors may suppress systemic VEGF levels and potentially harm the developing brain, lungs, or other organs. The currently open questions about anti-VEGF treatment concern its dosing, choice of drug, and long-term safety.
Translated title of the contributionScreening und Behandlung der Frühgeborenenretinopathie
Original languageEnglish
JournalDeutsches Arzteblatt International
Issue number43
Pages (from-to)730-735
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 23.10.2015

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


Dive into the research topics of 'Screening and treatment in retinopathy of prematurity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this