Retrolental fibroplasia (RLF), which became the largest cause of child blindness in the United States, was virtually eliminated with the discovery of oxygen overuse as its cause in the early 1950's. Recent data on the respiratory distress syndrome, a condition affecting approximately 40,000 premature infants in this country yearly, indicate the need for high oxygen therapy in many of these cases. The pendulum which swung in the 1950's toward a rigid curtailment of oxygen to prevent RLF may swing back as the need for high oxygen for the respiratory distress infant becomes more abundantly documented. Ophthalmoscopic examination for the presence of severe retinal vasoconstriction is advocated as a method of monitoring premature infants that require high oxygen therapy to minimize the risk of blindness.
Patz A. New Role of the Ophthalmologist in Prevention of Retrolental Fibroplasia. Arch Ophthalmol. 1967;78(5):565-568. doi:10.1001/archopht.1967.00980030567001