Background: Although retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a leading cause of childhood blindness, its impact in lower income countries is not well documented. The World Health Organization has proclaimed that infants at risk for ROP should have screening eye examinations and access to treatment.
Patients and methods: A prospective study was conducted from January 1 through December 31, 2001, at Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City for premature infants who weighed 1,500 g or less at birth or were 33 gestational weeks or younger. Serial examinations were used to classify ROP, and treatment outcomes were noted.
Results: Two hundred twenty-five consecutive infants were included in the data analysis. Birth weights ranged from 900 to 2,000 g (mean, 1,512 g). Gestational ages ranged from 26 to 36 weeks (mean, 31 weeks). ROP was present in 103 (45.8%) of the 225 infants. In infants who weighed 1,250 g or less at birth, the ROP rate was 81.2% (26 of 32 infants). Threshold ROP was present in 9.3% of the 225 infants but in 25% of the 32 infants. Twenty-four eyes received treatment, whereas 16 lacked the family resources. Of the 24 treated eyes, 18 (75%) had a favorable outcome. Of the 16 untreated eyes, only 3 had a favorable outcome.
Conclusions: ROP incidence is high in Vietnam, similar to that in the United States. However, larger, older infants are at risk in Vietnam and the rate of severe ROP seems to be higher. This necessitates an ROP screening paradigm different from that currently used in the United States.