What is retinitis pigmentosa?
Retinitis pigmentosa is the name of a group of eye diseases that are
passed down in families. All of them affect the retina. The retina is the nerve layer
that lines the back of the eye. It is sensitive to light. All of the diseases cause a
slow but sure decline in eyesight.
What causes retinitis pigmentosa?
Retinitis pigmentosa affects the
ability of cells in the retina to sense light. Over time, the cells break down and die.
The problem with the retina can take place in any of the following:
What are the symptoms of retinitis pigmentosa?
The symptoms of retinitis
pigmentosa often begin in childhood or the teen years. But symptoms can be a bit
different for each person. Some people with the disease have a slow, very progressive
loss of eyesight. Others lose their eyesight much more quickly and severely. Common
symptoms may include:
Hard time seeing in poor lighting or in the dark
A reduced ability to see either
central vision or side (peripheral) vision
Hard time reading print
Hard time figuring out detailed images
Hard time with stumbling or tripping over objects not seen
The symptoms of the condition may look like other eye diseases. Talk with your eye healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is retinitis pigmentosa diagnosed?
Your eye healthcare provider will
take a full health history and give you an eye exam. The eye healthcare provider may do
one or more of the following tests to make a diagnosis:
How is retinitis pigmentosa treated?
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.
The symptoms of retinitis
pigmentosa sometimes look like other conditions or health problems. Always see your eye
healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
There is no specific treatment. But
protecting your retina by using UV sunglasses may help delay the start of symptoms. An
artificial retina (retinal prosthesis) has been developed for people with very advanced
disease and severe vision loss. Talk with your eye healthcare provider for more
What are possible complications of retinitis pigmentosa?
Retinitis pigmentosa causes a progressive loss of eyesight. It may happen slowly or more quickly.
Living with retinitis pigmentosa
This is a progressive condition. This means that it will continue to
get worse over time. Talk with your eye healthcare provider to get information on
services and devices for people with low vision.
When should I call my healthcare provider?
If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, call your eye healthcare provider.
Key points about retinitis pigmentosa
Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of eye
disorders that are inherited and affect the retina.
All of these disorders cause a slow
but sure decline in eyesight.
Symptoms, including loss of vision or
visual sharpness, often begin in childhood or the teen years.
There is no specific treatment. An
artificial retina (retinal prosthesis) is now available for people with very advanced
disease and severe vision loss.
The use of UV sunglasses may help
delay the start of symptoms.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.