Nursery illumination has been implicated in the pathogenesis of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), although the results of recent studies are conflicting. The data base for this article is a prospective ROP study on 607 infants of birth weight ≤1700 g including 35 larger siblings from multiple births when 1 infant fulfilled the birth weight criteria. Retinopathy commences preferentially in the nasal retina of the most immature neonate and is less likely to develop, or its onset is delayed, in the superior and inferior regions. These findings cannot be fully accounted for by regional vascular and neuroanatomical variations. Radiometric and physiological evidence suggests that the very immature neonate, most at risk of developing severe ROP, receives the greatest retinal irradiance. Furthermore, ROP commences in the areas of the retina receiving the highest light dose, and its onset is either retarded or inhibited in the darker retinal regions. Further studies are required to determine whether early exposure to light is a factor in the development of ROP. If a causal relationship is proven, here at least is one modality that can easily and immediately be controlled.
- Received November 12, 1990.
- Accepted July 3, 1991.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics