Purpose: The purpose of this study is to assess cone-mediated central retinal function in children with a history of preterm birth, including subjects with and without retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). The multifocal electroretinogram (mfERG) records activity of the postreceptor retinal circuitry.
Methods: mfERG responses were recorded to an array of 103 hexagonal elements that subtended 43° around a central fixation target. The amplitude and latency of the first negative (N1) and first positive (P1) response were evaluated in six concentric rings centered on the fovea. Responses were recorded from 40 subjects with a history of preterm birth (severe ROP, mild ROP, no ROP) and 19 term-born control subjects.
Results: The amplitude of N1 and P1 varied significantly with eccentricity and ROP severity. For all four groups, these amplitudes were largest in the center and decreased with eccentricity. At all eccentricities, N1 amplitude was significantly smaller in severe ROP and did not differ significantly among the other three groups (mild ROP, no ROP, term-born controls). P1 amplitude in all preterm groups was significantly smaller than in controls; P1 amplitude was similar in no ROP and mild ROP and significantly smaller in severe ROP.
Conclusions: These results provide evidence that premature birth alone affects cone-mediated central retinal function and that the magnitude of the effect varies with severity of the antecedent ROP. The lack of difference in mfERG amplitude between the mild and no ROP groups is evidence that the effect of ROP on the neurosensory retina may not depend solely on appearance of abnormal retinal vasculature.