Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of rare, genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina – which is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye.

Symptoms

With retinal pigmentosa, you may experience vision loss in the following ways:

  • Loss of night vision – Night blindness is when you are unable to see anything in the dark. Your vision may be completely normal during the day but as you start losing night vision, it takes longer to adjust to the darkness. You may have difficulties driving during dusk and you may find it hard to see in cinemas or other dimly lit rooms.
  • Gradual loss of peripheral vision – This is also known as ‘tunnel vision’. Tunnel vision causes you to be unable to see objects below and around you and may lead you to bump into things whilst you are moving around.
  • Loss of central vision – Some people also experience problems with central vision. This can make it difficult to do simple tasks such as reading or threading a needle.
  • Issues with colour vision – Some people also often experience trouble seeing different colours.

Diagnosis, Screening and Tests

An optometrist can examine your retina to detect Retinitis Pigmentosa.

If you have a family history of Retinitis Pigmentosa or have witnessed any of the symptoms associated with the condition you need to ensure you make this clear to the individual who is examining your eyes. This will help them to carry out the best set of tests.

If your optometrist detects any changes in your retina which may be RP, they will refer you to an ophthalmologist for more detailed testing. This may include genetic testing and discussing any family history of RP.

Treatments

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for retinitis pigmentosa. Currently, a large amount of work is being done around the world by multiple research groups to develop various treatment options for RP and other inherited retinal conditions.

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