at La Jolla, California
study started
estimated completion
Shira L. Robbins, M.D.



Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a blinding disease affecting infants born prematurely. These infants do not have enough essential fatty acids to structurally support the retina, the nerve tissue in the eye which allows us to see. A recent study showed that giving omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids to these infants soon after birth made them less likely to need invasive treatments for eye disease. This research trial will give young infants born prematurely n-3 fish oil treatment and look at how this changes factors in the blood that promote disease. Detailed blood studies comparing infants with and without ROP will be performed and the infants will be followed over time to assess their eye development.

Official Title

Omega-3 LCPUFA Supplementation in Very Low Birth Weight Infants for The Prevention Retinopathy of Prematurity: Proposal for a Prospective Randomized Controlled Masked Clinical Trial With Lipidomic and Transcriptomic Analyses


Approximately 517,000 infants are born prematurely every year. As low birth weight and premature infants are surviving longer, they are at risk of developing severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).

ROP is a disease of the eye affecting prematurely-born babies. It is thought to be caused by disorganized growth of retinal blood vessels which may result in scarring and retinal detachment. ROP can be mild and may resolve spontaneously, but it may lead to blindness in serious cases. ROP is the leading cause of irreversible childhood blindness in the United States. As such, all preterm babies are at risk for ROP, and very low birth weight is an important risk factor.

Researchers have found that increasing omega-3 fatty acids and decreasing omega-6 fatty acids in the diet of mice with eye disease similar to ROP had reduced areas of blood vessel loss and abnormal blood vessel growth. These findings represent new evidence suggesting the possibility that omega-3 fatty acids act as protective factors in diseases that affect retinal blood vessels.

Omega-3 fatty acids make compounds that protect against the growth of abnormal blood vessels by preventing inflammation.

In two European studies, this treatment decreased the risk of needing laser treatment in the eye for ROP. This study has not yet been repeated in the United States. The purpose of this study is to learn how omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in low birth weight infants changes the blood profile of infants receiving this nutritional treatment.

Infants are enrolled in this study shortly after birth and receive IV and/or oral supplementation until they are full term or the retinal blood vessels have completely developed, shortly after term. Once the treatment is over, these infants will continue to be followed for growth and development of their eyes.


Retinopathy of Prematurity ROP Premature infant Retinal Diseases Premature Birth Birth Weight Omegaven


You can join if…

  • Infants born less than or equal to 30 weeks gestation or less than 1500 g at birth

You CAN'T join if...

  • Patients with liver disease as tested by LFTs.
  • ≤ 500 grams birthweight


  • University of California, San Diego Jacobs Medical Center accepting new patients
    La Jolla California 92037 United States

Lead Scientist

  • Shira L. Robbins, M.D.
    Professor Of Clinical, Ophthalmology. Authored (or co-authored) 38 research publications


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Diego
Phase 2
Study Type
Last Updated