RETINITIS PIGMENTOSA

RETINITIS PIGMENTOSA (RP)

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is one of the diseases associated with our eyes. It starts in the “retina,” the light-sensitive thin layer of tissue in the back part of our eye. Conditions of the eyes are both inherited and acquired, but with retinitis pigmentosa, it is an inherited degenerative disease. Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of eye diseases; a rare condition wherein the loss and breakdowns of cells in the retina occur, and because of this, the eyes progressively degenerate which results in blindness. This condition still doesn’t have a cure, but some methods can slow the eyes’ vision loss.

The retina has two types of cells: rods and cones. Both cells are photoreceptors in the retina. The rods function in a nightlight or lower light while cones cells are visual photoreceptors. Rods are found in the outer sides of the retina and aid peripheral vision.  Cones function in bright lights or daylight. They’re located in the center of the retina, and they help your eyes see colors and details. In most cases, the rods degenerate first and not cones, and because of that, you lose your peripheral vision first, and when the disease reaches your cones, you’ll lose your vision and your ability to see colors.

TYPES

It can be passed down biologically and create three different types of Retinitis Pigmentosa:

  1. The first type is the Autosomal Recessive RP, wherein there is one problematic copy and one normal gene with no symptoms from the parents, but the child will inherit two problem copies. It can still be inherited, but there is only25% that the child will get the condition.
  2. The Autosomal Dominant RP type only needs one problem copy for the child to develop the condition. With this type, the child can inherit the disease with a 50% possibility.
  3. X-Linked RP is the third type of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) wherein only a mother who carries the problem gene can pass it down to her children.  Only 1 out of 5 mild symptoms may show, but there is a 50% chance that her children will inherit it. Most women are asymptomatic, but men who have it have more severe cases, although men who have the problem gene can’t pass it down to their children.

SYMPTOMS

Some of the symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) include the following:

  • It takes longer to adjust to the darkness (night-blindness)
  • Have “tunnel vision,” wherein you start losing your peripheral vision
  • Have difficulty seeing colors
  • You might experience “photophobia,” which is finding bright lights uncomfortable
  • May also experience “photopsia,” which is seeing shimmering and blinking flashes of lights
  • Seeing floating specks
  • Distorted vision

DIAGNOSIS

If you start experiencing two or more symptoms, you should go to your ophthalmologist. These signs may pose a significant threat to your vision. When you visit your doctor, he/she will run tests to check if you have retinitis pigmentosa. The doctor will check your retina to see if there are dark spots. You will also take a test on how your eyes can see particular objects or light, and it will look at how far you can see. The ophthalmologist may also put a unique contact lens on your eye to see how it will react to the light.  The last test is the genetic test wherein you’ll give a sample of your DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) to know which type of retinitis pigmentosa you inherited.

TREATMENT

Doctors still haven’t found a cure for retinitis pigmentosa, but there are methods to slow your vision loss:

  • Acetazolamide

Acetazolamide is a medicine used to heal the swelling and improve your vision when you experience “macular edema,” which is the build-up of fluid in one part of your eye called the “macula,” (area of the center of the retina) that causes it to swell and thicken which results to loss of vision.

  • Vitamin A Palmitate

Vitamin A Palmitate, also known as “retinyl palmitate,” is a mixture of retinol and palmitic acid. It is a form of Vitamin A found in animal products like eggs, chicken, and beef. This medicine can help slow down the effects of retinitis pigmentosa, but too much of a dose is toxic for your body.

  • Sunglasses

Wearing sunglasses or glasses with anti-radiation specs can help lessen your sensitivity to bright light, and protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays which can help speed up vision loss.

  • Retinal Implant

In the United States of America, doctors have developed a retinal implant procedure wherein they implant Argus II into one eye and give you glasses that contain a camera. The camera sends signals to the retina and can give partial eyesight.

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