To analyze screening for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) during a 3-year period in a national cohort of infants born before 27 weeks' gestation.
A national prospective study of neonatal morbidity in extremely preterm infants was performed in Sweden between April 1, 2004, and March 31, 2007. Screening for ROP was to start in the fifth postnatal week and to continue weekly until complete vascularization of the retina or until regression of ROP.
The first eye examination was performed no later than the sixth postnatal week in 84.8% of 506 infants, and the last examination was performed at postmenstrual age (PMA) of 38 weeks or later in 96.2% of infants. The mean and median numbers of days between examinations in the total cohort were 8.6 and 7.9 days, respectively (range, 1-27.8 days), and the mean and median numbers of examinations were 12 and 10, respectively. Most infants were treated during a limited period (eg, at PMA of 39 weeks, 75.0% of infants had been treated).
The objective of screening for ROP is timely detection of ROP before reaching treatment of criteria, ie, type 1 ROP, according to the Early Treatment for ROP recommendations. In our population of infants born before 27 weeks' gestation, the first examination could safely be postponed until PMA of 31 weeks because the onset of ROP stage 3 did not occur before then and criteria for treatment were not reached before PMA of 32 weeks. Gestational age at birth and PMA at the time of examination should be considered when deciding when and where the next examination should be performed.