Aims To study the incidence and treatment of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in England, 1990–2011.
Methods English national Hospital Episode Statistics were analysed, for babies born in hospital and for inpatient admissions, to obtain annual rates of diagnosis of, and treatment for, babies with ROP. National data on low birthweight (LBW) babies, born <1500 g and therefore eligible for ROP screening, were used as denominators in calculating rates of ROP per 1000 babies at risk.
Results The recorded incidence of ROP increased tenfold, from 12.8 per 1000 LBW babies in 1990 to 125.5 per 1000 LBW babies in 2011. Tretment rates for ROP by cryotherapy or laser rose from 1.7 to 14.8 per 1000 LBW babies between 1990 and 2011. In 1990, 13.3% of babies with ROP were treated with cryotherapy, which fell to 0.1% in 2011. Rates for laser treatment rose from 1.8% of babies with ROP in 1999 to 11.7% in 2011.
Conclusions Increased neonatal survival, improved awareness of ROP and dissemination of guidance on screening and treatment of ROP will all have contributed to the substantial rise in recorded incidence of ROP between 1990 and 2011. Retinal ablation is now almost always performed using laser treatment rather than cryotherapy.
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