Purpose: To assess the effectiveness of vitrectomy for stage V retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) at the authors' institution, 33 patients with ROP who had initially successful total or partial anatomic retinal attachments (51 eyes) were evaluated for visual function and long-term anatomic stability. In addition, this study was an attempt to differentiate levels of visual function in children with very low vision and attendant developmental delays.
Methods: Visual function was assessed before retinal examination by an experienced pediatric vision specialist. The behavioral visual assessment was divided into seven segments with two to five tasks in each segment designed to establish a level of functional vision, ranging from light perception to form identification (and ambulation). The status of the retina was classified by the patient's retinal surgeon.
Results: The median follow-up was 61 months, and median age at the time of examination was 68 months. Of 51 eyes treated, form identification was achieved in 5, and all five patients had ambulatory vision. Of 51 eyes, 15 had no light perception, 11 had light perception, 6 could localize light, 10 could follow lights, and 4 were able to detect form. Only one eye in ten children with comparable ROP in each eye underwent surgery, and vision improved in six of ten of the surgical eyes. Redetachment was high, with 35 retinas totally or partially detached and only 13 retinas fully attached 61 months after surgery.
Conclusion: The visual results are very low and disappointing. Initially successfully attached retinas can detach. There is some evidence that vitrectomized eyes function better than nonvitrectomized eyes. There is also evidence that visual function lower than form identification is useful to these children and that they are able to use their limited vision better than previously though.