What is Retinitis Pigmentosa? Sign, Cause & Treatment

Tanuja Bisht

, Health A2Z

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic disorder of the eyes that leads to loss of vision. It is also defined as a group of eye problems that affect the retina. Due to this condition, the retina changes respond to light, making it hard to see. People usually with retinitis pigmentosa lose their vision slowly over time.


Its symptoms include decreased peripheral vision (side vision) and trouble to see at night. The onset of symptoms is generally regular.


As peripheral vision increases, people may experience “tunnel vision”. Complete blindness with this condition is uncommon.


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Rentinitis Pigmentosa

Image Source: Google




What is Retinitis Pigmentosa?

It is a term for a group of eye diseases which eventually lead to loss of sight. When a person has RP, the cells in the retina called photoreceptors don’t work properly the way they’re supposed to, and with the passing of time, a person loses his sight.


It’s a rare disease that’s passed from parent to child. Only 1 out of every 5,000 people get it. About half of all people with retinitis pigmentosa have a family member who also has it.


The retina has two types of cells that gather light: rods cells and cones cells. The rods cells are around the outer ring of the retina and are active in dim light.


Whereas cones cells are mostly in the center of the retina. They help the person see color and fine detail.


Most forms of retinitis pigmentosa affect the rods first. The person’s night vision and ability to see to the side i.e peripheral vision go away.


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What are the Sign and Symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa?

It usually starts in childhood. But it also varies from person to person. Most people with the disorder lose much of their sight by early adulthood or by age 40, they are often legally blind.


Retinitis Pigmentosa

Image Source: Google


Because rods cells are usually affected first, the first symptom may a person notice is that it takes longer to adjust to darkness (called night blindness).


The person may lose the peripheral vision at the same time or soon after the decline in night vision. He/she may get “tunnel vision,” which means the person can’t see things to the side without turning the head.


Retinitis Pigmentosa

Image Source: Google




What are the Causes of Retinitis Pigmentosa?

There are several possible causes of retinitis pigmentosa including;

  • Autosomal recessive RP
  • Autosomal dominant RP
  • X-linked RP




What are the Treatments Available for Retinitis Pigmentosa?

There’s no cure for the disorder, but doctors are working hard on developing new treatments. A few options for treatment can slow the vision loss and may even restore some sight including;

  • Acetazolamide
  • Vitamin A palmitate
  • Sunglasses
  • Retinal implant


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