Assessment and management of retinopathy of prematurity in the era of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
The incidence of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) continues to rise due to the improved survival of very low birth weight infants in developed countries. This epidemic is also fueled by increased survival of preterm babies with variable use of oxygen and a lack of ROP awareness and screening services in resource-limited regions. Improvements in technology and a basic understanding of the disease pathophysiology have changed the way we screen and manage ROP, educate providers and patients, and improve ROP awareness. Advancements in imaging techniques, expansion of telemedicine services, and the potential for artificial intelligence-assisted ROP screening programs have created opportunities to improve ROP care in areas with a shortage of ophthalmologists trained in ROP. To address the gap in provider knowledge regarding ROP, the Global Education Network for Retinopathy of Prematurity (GEN-ROP) created a web-based tele-education training module that can be used to educate all providers involved in ROP, including non-physician ROP screeners. Over the past 50 years, the treatment of severe ROP has evolved from limited treatment modalities to cryotherapy and laser photocoagulation. More recently, there has been growing evidence to support the use of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) agents for the treatment of severe ROP. However, VEGF is known to be important in organogenesis and microvascular maintenance, and given that intravitreal anti-VEGF treatment can result in systemic VEGF suppression over a period of at least 1-12 weeks, there are concerns regarding adverse effects and long-term ocular and systemic developmental consequences of anti-VEGF therapy. Future research in ophthalmology to address the growing burden of ROP should focus on cost-effective fundus imaging devices, implementation of artificial intelligence platforms, updated treatment algorithms with optimal use of anti-VEGF and careful investigation of its long-term effects, and surgical options in advanced ROP. Addressing these unmet needs will aid the global effort against the ROP epidemic and optimize our understanding and treatment of this blinding disease.
Tsai, AS; Chou, H-D; Ling, XC; Al-Khaled, T; Valikodath, N; Cole, E; Yap, VL; Chiang, MF; Chan, RVP; Wu, W-C
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