Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of eye problems that affect the retina. This condition changes how the retina responds to light, making it hard to see. People with retinitis pigmentosa lose their vision slowly over time. The condition usually does not lead to total blindness.

Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic condition, that is passed down from generation to generation.

Retinitis Pigmentosa, can present itself with the following symptoms:

  • Loss of night vision. Losing one’s ability to see objects in the dark.
  • Gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision. This is also known as “tunnel vision.”
  • Loss of central vision. Opposite of tunnel vision, making it difficult to accomplish tasks up close, like reading or threading a needle.
  • Problems with color vision. Difficulty telling the difference between colors.

The type and speed of vision loss from retinitis pigmentosa varies from person to person. It depends on their form of the condition.

Retinitis pigmentosa can be diagnosed and measured by:

  • Genetic testing. Testing your blood to see if you have certain genes that are associated with the disease.
  • Electroretinography. Testing how well the retina responds to light.
  • Visual field testing. Testing your side vision to find any blind spots that may be developing.
  • Optical coherence tomography. Taking highly detailed pictures of your retina to help diagnose RP and find out how it is affecting your retina.

At this point, there is no single treatment for retinitis pigmentosa. Although, research shows that taking certain vitamins, including vitamin A palmitate, may help some people with the condition. Some patients develop swelling of the retina and may be helped by a certain type of eye drop. Cataracts or clouding of the eye’s lens may also develop and surgery to treat this might be helpful for some patients. There is also an “artificial retina” called the ARGUS II implant, which may be helpful for some patients with severe vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa.

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