Long-term effects of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) on rod and rod-driven function

Doc Ophthalmol. 2011 Feb;122(1):19-27. doi: 10.1007/s10633-010-9251-0. Epub 2010 Nov 3.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether recovery of scotopic sensitivity occurs in human ROP, as it does in the rat models of ROP. Following a cross-sectional design, scotopic electroretinographic (ERG) responses to full-field stimuli were recorded from 85 subjects with a history of preterm birth. In 39 of these subjects, dark adapted visual threshold was also measured. Subjects were tested post-term as infants (median age 2.5 months) or at older ages (median age 10.5 years) and stratified by severity of ROP: severe, mild, or none. Rod photoreceptor sensitivity, S (ROD), was derived from the a-wave, and post-receptor sensitivity, log σ, was calculated from the b-wave stimulus-response function. Dark adapted visual threshold was measured using a forced-choice preferential procedure. For S (ROD), the deficit from normal for age varied significantly with ROP severity but not with age group. For log σ, in mild ROP, the deficit was smaller in older subjects than in infants, while in severe ROP, the deficit was quite large in both age groups. In subjects who never had ROP, S (ROD) and log σ in both age groups were similar to those in term born controls. Deficits in dark adapted threshold and log σ were correlated in mild but not in severe ROP. The data are evidence that sensitivity of the post-receptor retina improves in those with a history of mild ROP. We speculate that beneficial reorganization of the post-receptor neural circuitry occurs in mild but not in severe ROP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aging
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dark Adaptation
  • Electroretinography / methods
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Psychophysics
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells*
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / physiopathology*
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / psychology
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Visual Perception