Background: Infants with stage 5 retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) usually experience severe visual loss, even when the retina is reattached surgically. Such visual loss has been attributed to persistent retinal dysfunction in most cases, but this has not been established electroretinographically.
Methods: Electroretinograms (ERGs) were performed on 5 eyes of 4 children with partial or complete retinal attachment after vitreoretinal surgery for stage 5 ROP. Duration of detachment before surgery was 2 weeks in 1 eye, 4-5.5 weeks in 3 eyes, and 15 weeks in 1 eye. The ERG findings for these eyes were then compared with ERG findings in a child with regressed ROP after laser photoablation of the peripheral avascular retina.
Results: All of the eyes with surgically repaired stage 5 ROP had nonrecordable ERGs. The child with regressed ROP after laser photoablation had an attenuated but recordable ERG.
Conclusion: Severe retinal dysfunction persists in eyes with stage 5 ROP even after the retina is surgically reattached, which is probably one of the primary reasons that these eyes continue to have a poor visual outcome.