What is Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of eye problems that affect the retina — the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of our eye that converts light into visual signals. This condition causes loss of retinal nerve cells (rods and cones). RP degrades vision slowly over time, although it usually does not cause total blindness.
Symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa
Symptoms of retinitis pigmentosa can include:
- Night blindness (difficulty seeing in the dark)
- Gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision (tunnel vision)
- Loss of central vision
- Problems seeing colors properly
What Causes Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic condition. The type and speed of vision loss from retinitis pigmentosa varies depending on the person and the form of the condition.
Diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa
Retinitis pigmentosa can be diagnosed using the methods listed below.
- Genetic testing can determine if genes associated with RP are present and if gene therapy might be an option.
- Electroretinography is a test that measures the function of rods and cones in the retina.
- Visual field testing that measures your side vision and locates blind spots.
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT) can provide highly detailed images of your retina to help diagnose RP and assess the health of your retina.
What Are the Treatment Options for Retinitis Pigmentosa?
There is no single treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, mainly due to the 100 different genes that cause it. Depending on which of your genes is causing the RP, there may be a treatment available. At this time, gene therapy is only possible for a very small number of cases.
There are eye drops that may help with macular swelling associated with RP. As the disease progresses and vision deteriorates, low-vison rehabilitation may prove helpful.
Retinitis Pigmentosa Treatment at the Dean McGee Eye Institute
The Dean McGee Eye Institute’s team of retina and vitreous specialists have decades of experience in helping patients with retinitis pigmentosa. New clinical trials may be available for treatment of certain types of inherited retinal diseases. If you or a loved one believes they are suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, we would love to help.