International Classification of Retinopathy of Prematurity, Third Edition

Journal Article


Purpose: The International Classification of Retinopathy of Prematurity is a consensus statement that creates a standard nomenclature for classification of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). It was initially published in 1984, expanded in 1987, and revisited in 2005. This article presents a third revision, the International Classification of Retinopathy of Prematurity, Third Edition (ICROP3), which is now required because of challenges such as: (1) concerns about subjectivity in critical elements of disease classification; (2) innovations in ophthalmic imaging; (3) novel pharmacologic therapies (e.g., anti–vascular endothelial growth factor agents) with unique regression and reactivation features after treatment compared with ablative therapies; and (4) recognition that patterns of ROP in some regions of the world do not fit neatly into the current classification system. 

Design: Review of evidence-based literature, along with expert consensus opinion. 

Participants: International ROP expert committee assembled in March 2019 representing 17 countries and comprising 14 pediatric ophthalmologists and 20 retinal specialists, as well as 12 women and 22 men. 

Methods: The committee was initially divided into 3 subcommittees—acute phase, regression or reactivation, and imaging—each of which used iterative videoconferences and an online message board to identify key challenges and approaches. Subsequently, the entire committee used iterative videoconferences, 2 in-person multiday meetings, and an online message board to develop consensus on classification. 

Main Outcome Measures: Consensus statement. 

Results: The ICROP3 retains current definitions such as zone (location of disease), stage (appearance of disease at the avascular–vascular junction), and circumferential extent of disease. Major updates in the ICROP3 include refined classification metrics (e.g., posterior zone II, notch, subcategorization of stage 5, and recognition that a continuous spectrum of vascular abnormality exists from normal to plus disease). Updates also include the definition of aggressive ROP to replace aggressive-posterior ROP because of increasing recognition that aggressive disease may occur in larger preterm infants and beyond the posterior retina, particularly in regions of the world with limited resources. ROP regression and reactivation are described in detail, with additional description of long-term sequelae. 

Conclusions: These principles may improve the quality and standardization of ROP care worldwide and may provide a foundation to improve research and clinical care.







Number of Pages


Year of Publication