The standard treatment for advanced ROP, laser therapy burns away the area around the edge of the retina, which has no normal blood vessels. This procedure typically saves sight in the main part of the visual field, but at the cost of side (peripheral) vision. Laser surgery also requires general anesthesia, which may be risky for preterm infants. Cryotherapy was the first treatment for ROP. Cryotherapy uses an instrument to freeze a specific part of the eye that extends beyond the edges of the retina. It is used rarely now because outcomes from laser therapy are generally better. As with laser therapy, the treatment destroys some peripheral vision and must be done under general anesthesia. Research on anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs to treat ROP is ongoing. Anti-VEGF drugs work by blocking the overgrowth of blood vessels in the retina. The medication is injected into the eye while the infant is under brief general anesthesia. Although no drugs have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to treat ROP specifically, some medications approved for other uses are being explored as alternatives to laser therapy, or to be used in conjunction with it.
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