Effects of oxygen on the development and severity of retinopathy of prematurity

J AAPOS. 2013 Jun;17(3):229-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2012.12.155.


In 1942, when retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) first manifested as retrolental fibroplasia, the technology to monitor or regulate oxygen did not exist, and a fundus examination of preterm infants was not routinely performed. Supplemental, uncontrolled oxygen at birth has since been found to cause retrolental fibroplasia. At the same time, technological advances have made it possible to regulate oxygen and detect early forms of ROP. Nevertheless, despite our better understanding of ROP and ongoing investigations of supplemental therapeutic oxygen, including recent clinical trials (Surfactant, Positive Airway Pressure, Pulse Oximetry Randomized Trial [SUPPORT] and Benefits of Oxygen Saturation Targeting [BOOST]), the best oxygen profiles to reduce ROP risk while optimizing preterm infant health and development remain unknown. This article reviews major studies on oxygen use in preterm infants and the effects on the development of ROP.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / blood
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / therapy
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / etiology*
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / prevention & control*


  • Oxygen