Objective: To study the incidence and severity of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in infants < 32 weeks' gestation.
Design: Review of the records maintained in the New South Wales Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Study (NICUS) database on infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care units (NICU) in NSW from 1 January 1993 to 31 December 1994.
Results: In the more premature infants, 23-26 weeks' gestation, 65% developed ROP (102 of 157 examined for ROP). Forty-four infants (28%) developed severe ROP (Stage >/= 3 ROP), 19 infants (12.1%) required cryo/laser therapy and one infant (0.6%) in this group had a retinal detachment. One hundred and fifty-seven of 159 surviving infants (98.7%) were examined for ROP. In the infants 27-28 weeks' gestation, 38.3% developed ROP (103 of 269 examined for ROP). Fifteen infants (5.6%) developed severe ROP, seven infants (2. 6%) required cryo/laser therapy for threshold ROP and three infants (1.1%) in this group had a retinal detachment. Two hundred and sixty-nine of 299 surviving infants (90%) were examined for ROP. In the infants 29-31 weeks' gestation, 10.8% developed ROP (48 of 443 examined for ROP). Six infants (1.4%) developed severe ROP, one infant (0.2%) required cryo/laser therapy for threshold ROP and no infant in this group had a retinal detachment. However, only 443 of 681 surviving infants (65.1%) in this group were examined for ROP. Of the four infants with detached retinas, one was a 25 week gestation infant weighing 840 g, two were 27 weeks' gestation weighing 960 and 980 g and one infant was a 28 week gestation infant weighing 620 g. No infant developed Stage 5 ROP.
Conclusion: In the more mature infants 29-31 weeks' gestation, the rate of ROP is low, although severe ROP still occurs. However, only 65.1% of these infants were examined for ROP and we should be diligent in screening for ROP in the sicker infants in this group. The incidence of severe ROP as well as the rate of cryo/laser therapy in premature infants 23-26 weeks' in NSW has not changed since the increases seen in the early 1990s. Retinal detachment also occurs in the infants 27-28 weeks' gestation and it is important that all these infants are screened for ROP.