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Therapeutic Benefits for Premature Baby Eye ConditionNEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, is an effective treatment for retinopathy of prematurity, a potentially blinding disease that affects premature babies, and the benefits are maintained for at least 15 years, a new report shows.
In the Archives of Ophthalmology, Dr. Earl A. Palmer from Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, and colleagues describe the outcomes of 254 preterm children with severe retinopathy of prematurity. The children were treated with cryotherapy, which works by destroying the abnormal inner surface of the eye.
One hundred sixty-three children were available for evaluation at 15 years of age. In some cases, one of the patient's eyes was treated with cryotherapy, while the other was not, providing a suitable comparison.
Fifty-two percent of the untreated eyes showed structural problems compared with just 30 percent of cryotherapy-treated eyes. Similarly, vision problems were noted in 64 percent of the untreated eyes compared with 45 percent of the cryotherapy-treated eyes.
Despite the apparent benefits of cryotherapy, the findings indicate that this condition may be lifelong disease, since a number of treated and untreated eyes developed retinal detachment, blindness, or other retinopathy of prematurity-related problems when the patients were between the ages of 10 and 15 years old, Palmer's team notes.
"These results highlight the need for continued (eye testing) of children with a history of severe retinopathy of prematurity," the team concludes.
SOURCE: Archives of Ophthalmology, March 2005.
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