Retinal Microanatomy in Retinopathy of Prematurity (BabySTEPS2) (BabySTEPS2)

  • End date
    Mar 31, 2026
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Duke University
Updated on 15 March 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a disorder of development of the neural retina and its vasculature that can impact vision in vulnerable preterm neonates for a lifetime. This study tests high-speed optical coherence tomography (OCT) technology compared to conventional color photographs at the bedside of very preterm infants in the intensive care nursery, to characterize previously unseen abnormalities that can predict a need for referral for ROP treatment, or poor visual or neurological development later in life, up to pre-school age. Our long-term goal is to help improve preterm infant health and vision via objective bedside imaging and analysis that characterizes early critical indicators of ROP, and poor visual function and neurological development, which will rapidly translate to better early intervention and improved future care.


As an increasing percentage of preterm infants survive worldwide, the number of infants at risk for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is increasing. These infants are also at high risk for future abnormal visual function and neurodevelopment. While current screening approaches address identifying eyes for treatment of severe ROP, there are no attempts to address the later subnormal vision of many preterm infants. In part, this is due to a lack of information about the retina beyond that of retinal vascular development. In addition, the most common method to screen for ROP remains indirect ophthalmoscopic examination by physicians with annotated drawings for documentation, a method proven to be poorly reproducible and stressful to the fragile infant. Bedside retinal photographs enable documentation and the possibility for telemedicine approaches, but lack information about retinal microanatomy, are poor quality in darkly pigmented eyes and also are stressful to the infant because of the required light exposure. We need an infant-friendly, more practical approach to evaluate ROP efficiently and additional information about ocular and neurovascular development that could lead to improved clinical care.

This research builds on our group's ability to reliably capture and process non-contact, infrared optical coherence tomography (OCT) and OCT-angiography of retinal microanatomy and microvasculature at high speed, across a wide field of view, and at the bedside in preterm infants. Our overall objectives are threefold: first, to evaluate infant microanatomy and microvascular flow findings relevant to vision and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children; second, to translate and test our imaging achievements for real-world use by nurses at the bedside and for better clinical insight and feedback; and third, to gather additional data in eyes that progress to treatment and dive deeper into the insight that they provide into pathways of disease in ROP. The investigational OCT imaging will be used in this research to gather information that is otherwise not accessible to the physician. This research will lay the groundwork for future use of infant OCT markers to guide care.

Condition Retinopathy of Prematurity
Treatment Investigational ultracompact OCT and OCTA system, retinal photographs
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04995341
SponsorDuke University
Last Modified on15 March 2022


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Inclusion Criteria

Children previously enrolled in BabySTEPS1 (Pro00069721) that have already consented to being contacted for this school age follow on study, Cohort 1 only
Parent/Legal Guardian is able and willing to consent to study participation with follow up approximately between 4.5 and 5 years of age (consent available in Spanish and English) (SA 1 only)
Parent/Legal Guardian is able and willing to consent to study participation for the infant (SA 2 and 2c only)
Infant/child undergoing clinically-indicated examination under anesthesia that may or may not have eye pathology (SA 2 only)
Infant inborn or outborn at (SA 2 only)
Duke Hospital (Years 1, 2 and 3) with birth weight ≤1000 grams, and/or 20 0/7 to 28/ 6/7 (<29 weeks) gestational age
Duke Hospital (Years 1, 2 and 3) at high risk to require treatment for ROP irrespective of birth weight and gestational age (e.g. pre-plus, severe ROP in zone 1, APROP, etc.)
Duke Regional Hospital (Years 4 and 5) that meets the American Association of Pediatrics eligibility of ROP screening (Infants with a birth weight of ≤1500 g or gestational age of 30 weeks)
Adults (over the age of 18 years) that may or may not have eye pathology (SA 2 only)

Exclusion Criteria

Participant or Parent/Legal Guardian unwilling or unable to provide consent
Adult participant or infant/child has a health or eye condition that preclude eye examination or retinal imaging (e.g. corneal opacity such as with Peter's anomaly or cataract) (SA2 only)
Infant has a health condition, other than prematurity, that has a profound impact on brain development (e.g. anencephaly) (SA2 only)
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