Premature birth carries with it a variety of health risks. In regards to vision, however, these infants are typically screened for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) for several weeks depending on how early they were born and their birth weights. However, new research is raising the question of whether that’s going overboard.

The Philadelphia-based study looked at 1,257 infants born at 22 to 35 weeks' gestation with birth weights less than 1,251g. According to the investigators, for infants of at least 27 weeks’ gestational age and birth weights larger than 750g, if ROP isn’t detected by the time they’re discharged from the hospital at near-term postmenstrual age, they’re unlikely to develop it and won’t require additional screening. The team said, in their study, that 59% of infants 27 to 33 weeks’ gestational age showed no signs of ROP at discharge, compared with 15% of those who were less than 27 weeks’ gestational age.

Greater birth weights were also significantly associated with reduced risk of ROP, according to the JAMA Ophthalmology publication. 

Wade K, Ying G, Baumritter A, et al. Factors in premature infants associated with low risk of developing retinopathy of prematurity. JAMA Ophthalmol. [Epub ahead of print].