High-concentration oxygen therapy for premature neonates may be lifesaving, but also may predispose the infant to the development of retrolental fibroplasia a Washington, D.C., seminar was told.
From a low incidence of 300 reported cases per year in the late 1950s (when the association of the disease with high-dose oxygen first was recognized and lower oxygen concentrations were advocated), this disease has become a significant morbid consequence of aggressive neonatal intensive care (infants especially at risk are those weighing less than 1,000 gm at birth) with more than 4,000 cases per year being reported.
These data are according to Robert Machemer, MD, professor and chair, Department of Ophthalmology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC.
Although potentially a cause of total blindness, many cases of retrolental fibroplasia do regress, leaving the patient with some visual acuity. For those children with significant retinal detachment occurring under the force of the contracting