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Research Letter
February 5, 2014

Association Between Severe Retinopathy of Prematurity and Nonvisual Disabilities at Age 5 Years

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Neonatology, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 2Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  • 3Department of Paediatrics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 4Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 5Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
JAMA. 2014;311(5):523-525. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.282153

Severe retinopathy of prematurity is a serious complication of neonatal intensive care for preterm infants.1,2 Before effective screening and treatment became available, approximately 5% of infants with birth weights of 1250 g or less had visual acuity of 20/200 or worse at 5.5 years.3 In such children, the severity of retinopathy was a predictor of functional disability in multiple domains.1 Although the incidence of severe retinopathy has increased since the late 1980s,4 blindness caused by retinopathy has become rare in developed countries.5 Consequently, clinicians and parents may conclude that severe retinopathy is no longer associated with childhood impairments. We investigated whether infants with severe retinopathy who were diagnosed and treated under modern protocols retain an increased risk of nonvisual disabilities compared with those without severe retinopathy.