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The incidence of visual impairment due to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and concomitant disabilities in the Netherlands: a 30 year overview
  1. A J van Sorge1,
  2. J U M Termote2,
  3. M J de Vries3,
  4. F N Boonstra4,
  5. C Stellingwerf3,
  6. N E Schalij-Delfos1
  1. 1Department of Ophthalmology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, the Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Neonatology, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital/University Medical Centre Utrecht, the Netherlands
  3. 3Visio Institute for the Visually Impaired, the Netherlands
  4. 4Bartiméus Institute for the Visually Impaired, Zeist, the Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr A J van Sorge, Leiden University Medical Centre, Department of Ophthalmology, P.O. Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, the Netherlands; a.j.van_sorge{at}


Aim To determine the incidence of visual impairment (VI) caused by retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and concomitant disabilities in preterm neonates born between 2000 and 2009 in the Netherlands.

Methods Data were retrieved from the Dutch institutes for the visually impaired. They were compared with similar Dutch studies conducted in 1975–1987, 1986–1994 and 1994–2000.

Results Records of 42 infants with VI due to ROP were included. A gradual decrease of gestational age and birthweight but an increase of duration of artificial ventilation, supplemental oxygen administration, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, developmental delay and behavioural abnormalities was found. Compared with the previous study (1994–2000), significantly fewer children were visually impaired due to ROP (1.84 per 100,000 live births/year vs 3.93 per 100,000 live births/year, p=0.000), the incidence of complete blindness decreased from 27.5% to 7.1% (p<0.05) and more children were treated (66.7% vs 56.9%, NS). The incidence of concomitant disabilities was high and did not differ greatly from the previous study.

Conclusion This was a retrospective study showing a significant decrease in VI due to ROP in the Netherlands. Changes in neonatal care practices did not result in a decrease in the incidence of concomitant disabilities. More children were treated for ROP, but 33% were not treated.

  • Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
  • visual impairment
  • concomitant disabilities
  • incidence
  • retina
  • vision
  • epidemiology
  • child health (paediatrics)

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Children were included in the study when informed consent was obtained from their parents.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the medical ethics committees of all participating institutes for the partially sighted and blind.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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