[Skip to Navigation]
February 1996

Early Retinal Vessel Development and Iris Vessel Dilatation as Factors in Retinopathy of Prematurity

Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(2):150-154. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100130144005

Objective:  To determine whether the extent of retinal vessel development present on early screening examinations for retinopathy of prematurity has prognostic value?

Design:  The prospectively collected data from the Multicenter Trial of Cryotherapy for Retinopathy of Prematurity were used to compare the development of acute retinopathy of prematurity and long-term structural and visual outcomes for eyes with differing extents of retinal vessel development.

Patients:  Study patients had eyes with the following vessel development. In zone I eyes, vessels extended from the disc less than twice the distance from the disc to the macula. In zone II eyes, vessels extended beyond zone I but not to the nasal ora serrata. Transitional eyes had vessels partly in zone I and partly in zone II.

Results:  The chance of developing threshold retinopathy of prematurity was inversely related to the early degree of vessel development: 54% for zone I eyes, 25% for transitional eyes, and 8% for zone II eyes. The presence of prominent iris vessels at 34 to 35 weeks of postmenstrual age was associated with increased risk for all three groups; zone I eyes almost always needed treatment (94%). The chance of having an unfavorable anatomic alteration of the posterior fundus, or poor vision at the ages of 1 year and 3½ years, was also inversely related to the degree of early vessel development. Vessel development was an independently important factor even when birth weight, gestational age, and race were considered.

Conclusions:  The degree of early retinal vessel development is a significant predictor of outcome from retinopathy of prematurity. Iris vessel dilatation is an important indication for greater vigilance in following up these infants.

Add or change institution