Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is an important cause of childhood blindness globally, and the incidence is rising. The disease is characterized by initial arrested retinal vascularization followed by neovascularization and ensuing retinal detachment causing permanent visual loss. Although neovascularization can be effectively treated via retinal laser ablation, it is unknown which children are at risk of entering this vision-threatening phase of the disease. Laser ablation may itself induce visual field deficits, and there is therefore a need to identify targets for novel and less destructive treatments of ROP. Inflammation is considered a key contributor to the pathogenesis of ROP. A large proportion of preterm infants with ROP will have residual visual loss linked to loss of photoreceptor (PR) and the integrity of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in the macular region. Recent studies using animal models of ROP suggest that choroidal degeneration may be associated with a loss of integrity of the outer retina, a phenomenon so far largely undescribed in ROP pathogenesis. In this review, we highlight inflammatory and neuron-derived factors related to ROP progression, as well, potential targets for new treatment strategies. We also introduce choroidal degeneration as a significant cause of residual visual loss following ROP. We propose that ROP should no longer be considered an inner retinal vasculopathy only, but also a disease of choroidal degeneration affecting both retinal pigment epithelium and photoreceptor integrity.
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- Retinopathy of prematurity: inflammation, choroidal degeneration, and novel promising therapeutic strategies
José Carlos Rivera
Tora Sund Morken
Tianwei (Ellen) Zhou
Estefania Marin Sierra
- BioMed Central