RETINITIS PIGMENTOSA - Overview, Facts, Types, etc...


Retinitis Pigmentosa is considered as a group of eye diseases that can cause loss of eyesight. It is said to be a rare disorder that is passed from a parent to a child. If you are diagnosed with this eye disease, the cells in the retina known as photoreceptors don’t work the way they’re supposed to, and overall, you lose your sight. The retina is known to have two types of cells that gather light which is called rods and cones. The outer ring of the retina, which is active in dim light, is identified to be the rods. Most cases of Retinitis Pigmentosa affect the rod first. 

Causes of Retinitis Pigmentosa 

Photoreceptors in the retina play a crucial role in developing Retinitis Pigmentosa. Thus, the photoreceptors have two types which are the Rods and Cons. Rods are considered responsible for vision in low light while on the other hand, cones provide vision in bright light. What causes Retinitis Pigmentosa is the mutations or changes in genes that can send wrong messages to the retinal cells, which leads to their progressive degeneration.  This eye disease is known to be an inherited disorder and is not caused by injury, infection or any other factors. People diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa are likely born with the condition already.


There are two types of Retinitis Pigmentosa; one is Autosomal dominant RP which is considered to require only one copy of the defective gene to develop. One copy of an altered gene in each cell is enough to cause a disorder. It is known to have a 50% chance of passing from parents to each of their children. Next, is the X-linked RP, the carrier of the gene won’t have any symptoms.


This eye disease commonly starts in childhood. Considering that rods are affected first, the primary symptom that may happen is night blindness. For example, you may find it hard to drive at night or may trip over objects in the dark. You may also encounter a tunnel vision which means you cannot see things on the side without having to turn your head. This may lead to losing your peripheral vision.

On the other hand, as time passes by, your cones may also be affected, and it will be harder for you to do detail work and may have colour blindness. One of the symptoms of this eye disease is called photophobia which you may find bright lights uncomfortable. Another symptom that you will encounter is that you may start to see flashes of light that shimmer or blink, which is commonly known as photopsia. Retinitis Pigmentosa causes progressive vision loss. 

The first symptom would be the loss of night vision, which is visible in childhood. Difficulties in your eye vision at night may cause problems in navigating through low light. Later, Retinitis Pigmentosa also causes blind spots in the peripheral vision. And as time passes by, these blind spots merge to produce tunnel vision. This eye disease progresses over the years, and this can affect the central vision, which is used for reading, recognizing faces and driving. This eye disease can lead to blindness.


Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa. However, there are a few treatments done to patients diagnosed with this eye disease, one of which is light avoidance and use of low vision aids. This is done to slow down the progress of Retinitis Pigmentosa. Another is consuming Vitamin A which is also done to slow down the progression of eye disease. Researchers confirm that taking high doses of Vitamin A every day may slow the progression. There are also different types of research being done, such as gene therapy research, transplant research, and retinal prosthesis.

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