Retinitis pigmentosa is a degenerative disease of the retina. It is a progressive disease; that is, it gets worse over time, and leads to progressive vision loss. RP is one of the most common forms of inherited retinal degeneration. It’s characterized by the progressive loss of photoreceptor cells and can eventually lead to blindness, although not usually total blindness. Individuals with RP generally experience night blindness first, often followed by a reduction of the peripheral vision, known as tunnel vision, and sometimes loss of central vision.
Blindness from retinitis pigmentosa is incurable. The progression of the disease may vary, with some individuals losing their vision in childhood. Others may not become legally blind until they are in their 40’s and 50’s. Some others still retain some sight throughout their life. Diagnosis of RP relies upon documentation of progressive loss in photoreceptor cell function by electroretinography (ERG), and visual field testing to show loss of peripheral vision. Visual acuity testing is important in detecting vision loss. Retinal exams are important to document the health of the retina.
The major risk factor for retinitis pigmentosa is family history. RP runs in families, and is caused by a number of genetic defects. There is no real treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, although some studies suggest that the progression of the disease can be reduced by a daily intake of 15000 IU of Vitamin A palmitate in certain patients. Wearing sunglasses to help protect the retina from ultraviolet light can also be beneficial to preserving vision.
If you have a retinal disease and need an eye exam, please call Eyecare Medical Group at 888-374-2020 or visit us at Facebook.com/eyecaremedicalgroup to schedule an appointment!