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Protecting the Rights of ROP Victims and their Families

Retinopathy of prematurity (also called ROP) is an eye disease that affects many premature babies and which, if not treated correctly result in blindness.

Anatomy & risk factors

The blood vessels in a baby’s eyes begin developing in utero at 3 months, and that development continues through birth. The development is disrupted when a baby is born early- the blood vessels can stop growing, or in severe cases, can develop abnormally.

Although all babies born prematurely have a risk of ROP, the following factors can increase the baby’s risk of developing ROP:

  • Low gestation age (up to 34 weeks gestation)
  • Very low birth weight
  • Blood transfusions
  • Prolonged steroid administration
  • Hyperventilation and necessity for hand ventilation
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Hyperoxaemia (excessive oxygen in the blood).

Prevention and Treatment

ROP is a preventable cause of blindness. When a premature baby needs to be given oxygen to assist in its breathing and development, there are strict guidelines to be followed.

When retinopathy of prematurity is detected early, proper and timeous treatment with cryo- or laser therapy will, in most cases, arrest the progression of this vessel malformation and avoid retinal detachments and blindness.


Instances of malpractice known to contribute to ROP:

  • Improper use of oxygen therapy following birth
  • Failing to provide timely, regular eye exams to high risk infants
  • Failing to diagnose ROP when symptoms of this condition are clearly present
  • Failing to promptly or adequately treat ROP

Legal help for babies and families affected by ROP

If your baby’s doctor failed to prevent, and to timely diagnose and treat ROP, and your child is now struggling with impaired vision or total blindness, there is help available. The dedicated and compassionate legal team at Gert Nel Incorporated will evaluate your claim, at no cost to you, and determine whether the injured baby is eligible for compensation.

The aim when seeking compensation for the damages suffered is to attempt to give your injured child the best chance at a normal life. These damages may include, depending on your child’s needs:

Special needs helpers and care-givers such as:
  • Au Pairs
  • Special needs teaching
  • A case manager
  • School assistant
  • Full time or part time caregiving
Loss of earnings.
General damages for the pain and suffering portion of the claim.
Special needs schooling, the cost of medical treatment as well as assistive devices such as:
  • Electronic systems and hardware for the blind
  • Braille devices
  • Guide dogs / walking sticks
  • Prosthetic eyes
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Family and individual counselling.