My Experience with Retinopathy of Prematurity

A personal reflection of a high-school junior that has been diagnosed with a disease called Retinopathy of Prematurity just weeks after birth.

Picture Credit: InTechOpen

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Picture Credit: InTechOpen

By Erin Kim

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August 14. 2001, 5:46 p.m — I was born as a premature baby diagnosed with Stage 3 plus disease of  Retinopathy of Prematurity, a rare potentially blinding eye disorder that primarily affects premature infants weighing about 2.75 pounds. The blood vessels of the retina had become enlarged and twisted, indicating a worsening of the disease. Laser surgery was an option that I had to undergo to prevent retinal detachment. As a result of the surgery, my overall vision and my night vision has exponentially decreased, and my peripheral vision has also decreased — as the surgery focuses on the peripheral retina — to preserve my central vision.

A comparison of two retinas: a normal retina and a ROP-diagnosed retina. // Picture Credit: Fort Worth Eye Associates

Ever since I have worn glasses since age three, have heard my mother told me about my surgery, and how I could’ve potentially gone blind, I refrained myself from activities that included a ball in it. Because I was more sensitive about the eye area, my fear of balls had quickly formed. What if the ball accidentally hit my eyes? What if my glasses break, and my eyes get hurt in the process? As my fear increased, while my desire for being able to get rid of my fear increased, I have always been jealous of those who could play water polo — a sport that has grabbed my attention ever since I have first encountered it; the way they treaded the water like otters, and threw the ball into the goal with such great force. Because of my bad eyesight, I was not able to play water polo, the sport I have always wanted to play; if I took off my glasses, everything was just one big blob. There was no way for me to distinguish the players from the ball. I had no hope. 

But as time passed, I have formed a passion for writing and presenting my spoken word poetry pieces, and other activities that didn’t jeopardize the condition of my eyes. I became thankful for the most trivial situations; whether it’d be being able to watch the sunrise and sunset, read books that have served to enlighten my hungry brain, or simply being able to see people smile, I have learned how to treasure every single day. Being able to see should not be something that is taken lightly or for granted; it should be something that everyone should be thankful for each and every day.

An example picture of how blurry my vision is when I am not wearing glasses or contact lenses. // Picture Credit: Get Holistic Health

I am now living each day to its fullest, as a teenage girl with minor exophoria, myopia astigmatism on both eyes, a retinal scar on both eyes, and the fear of knowing that I am considered to be at higher risk for developing eye problems later in life, like retinal detachment.

3 Comments

3 Responses to “My Experience with Retinopathy of Prematurity”

  1. Desiree Tevez on February 9th, 2018 11:26 am

    I have never heard of Retinopathy of Prematurity, so for me as someone who enjoys learning about anything involving the human body, I thought that was definitely eye catching. However, I do think that you have also done well to make the best of your situation. Many people could have let that fear of becoming blind consume them, but you didn’t. I think that you are someone who is extremely brave to go through what you do everyday.

    [Reply]

  2. Grecia Meglar on February 9th, 2018 11:29 am

    A heartbreaking article that ends on a not too sad note, definitely a good read. It’s great that you aren’t letting your weaknesses get the best of you!

    [Reply]

  3. Kimberly Guifarro on February 9th, 2018 11:48 am

    I really found this article to be interesting! I think it was very brave of you to be able to share your experience with others as it is hard for many people to speak about their life. You also gave great information about what Retinopathy of Prematurity and it was very interesting to read.

    [Reply]

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