What is Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Retinitis Pigmentosa is a group of genetic eye conditions causing progressive degeneration of the retina, the light sensitive layer of tissue lining the back of the eye. The light receptors of the retina are called rods and cones. As a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa the rods, and in a later stage the cones, slowly die, causing reduced vision. The peripheral vision decreases first; central vision is usually retained until late in the disease.
Retinitis Pigmentosa is an inherited condition affecting both eyes. If it starts in one eye, the other eye generally develops the same condition in a number of years. It is often diagnosed during the teenage years, but may be present at birth. Cases diagnosed at birth are often stable and non-progressive. Cases diagnosed later in life are often mild and may progress more slowly than those diagnosed in the teenage years.
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Retinitis Pigmentosa may eventually lead to blindness, depending on the severity and the progression of the condition.
Other inherited diseases share some of the clinical symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa. The most common is Usher Syndrome, where both hearing and vision are affected. Other related syndromes include Best Disease, Choroideremia, gyrate-atrophy and Stargardt's Disease.
What are the symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa
Symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa include:
- in the initial stage, difficulty in night vision
- decreased peripheral vision
- tunnel vision
What to expect from Retinitis Pigmentosa
There is currently no cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa. Research is continually being carried out to determine treatments to help delay this condition. Early diagnosis is important, so that you can be counselled as to how to cope with this condition and maximize the use of the vision you still have.
More information about Retinitis Pigmentosa
There is extensive information available about Retinitis Pigmentosa. The information included is intended to inform you about the basics of this eye condition, and is not intended as a replacement for information from your physician or eye specialist. Information regarding assistive devices that can help you if you have been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa is included. Our recommendations can be found under Tools and Resources.