Learn About Retinitis Pigmentosa

What is the definition of Retinitis Pigmentosa?

Retinitis pigmentosa is an eye disease in which there is damage to the retina. The retina is the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye. This layer converts light images to nerve signals and sends them to the brain.

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What are the alternative names for Retinitis Pigmentosa?

RP; Vision loss - RP; Night vision loss - RP; Rod Cone dystrophy; Peripheral vision loss - RP; Night blindness

What are the different types of Retinitis Pigmentosa?

Common conditions include: X-Linked Retinitis Pigmentosa (XLRP)

What are the causes of Retinitis Pigmentosa?

Retinitis pigmentosa can run in families. The disorder can be caused by several genetic defects.

The cells controlling night vision (rods) are most likely to be affected. However, in some cases, retinal cone cells are damaged the most. The main sign of the disease is the presence of dark deposits in the retina.

The main risk factor is a family history of retinitis pigmentosa. It is a rare condition affecting about 1 in 4,000 people in the United States.

What are the symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa?

Symptoms often first appear in childhood. However, severe vision problems do not often develop before early adulthood.

  • Decreased vision at night or in low light. Early signs may include having a harder time moving around in the dark.
  • Loss of side (peripheral) vision, causing "tunnel vision."
  • Loss of central vision (in advanced cases). This will affect the ability to read.
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What are the current treatments for Retinitis Pigmentosa?

There is no effective treatment for this condition. Wearing sunglasses to protect the retina from ultraviolet light may help preserve vision.

Some studies suggest that treatment with antioxidants (such as high doses of vitamin A palmitate) may slow the disease. However, taking high doses of vitamin A can cause serious liver problems. The benefit of treatment has to be weighed against risks to the liver.

Clinical trials are in progress to assess new treatments for retinitis pigmentosa, including the:

  • Use of DHA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Treatments related to the possible genetic causes of this disorder

Other treatments, such as microchip implants into the retina that act like a microscopic video camera, are in the early stages of development. These treatments may be useful for treating blindness associated with RP and other serious eye conditions.

A vision specialist can help you adapt to vision loss. Make regular visits to an eye care specialist, who can detect cataracts or retinal swelling. Both of these problems can be treated.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Retinitis Pigmentosa?

The disorder will continue to progress slowly. Complete blindness is uncommon.

What are the possible complications of Retinitis Pigmentosa?

Peripheral and central loss of vision will occur over time.

People with retinitis pigmentosa often develop cataracts at an early age. They may also develop swelling of the retina (macular edema). Cataracts can be removed if they contribute to vision loss.

When should I contact a medical professional for Retinitis Pigmentosa?

Contact your health care provider if you have problems with night vision or you develop other symptoms of this disorder.

How do I prevent Retinitis Pigmentosa?

Genetic counseling and testing may help determine whether your children are at risk for this disease.

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What are the latest Retinitis Pigmentosa Clinical Trials?
Experimental and Clinical Studies of Retinal Stimulation

Summary: The study will evaluate new methods of retinal stimulation and training with the goal of improving the visual ability of retinal prosthesis participants.

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National Ophthalmic Genotyping and Phenotyping Network Stage 1 - Creation of DNA Repository for Inherited Ophthalmic Diseases

Summary: This study will collect blood and DNA samples from patients with inherited eye diseases to be used in research to identify genetic factors responsible for these conditions. In recent years, nearly 500 genes that contribute to inherited eye diseases have been identified. Disease-causing mutations are associated with many eye diseases, including glaucoma, cataracts, strabismus, corneal dystrophies a...

What are the Latest Advances for Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Challenges of cell therapies for retinal diseases.
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Vision Restoration by Optogenetic Therapy and Developments Toward Sonogenetic Therapy.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: February 17, 2022
Published By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

American Academy of Ophthalmology website. New treatments for retinitis pigmentosa. www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/gene-therapy-new-retinitis-pigmentosa-lca-luxturna. Updated August 16, 2021. Accessed May 17, 2022.

Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 395.

Cukras CA, Zein WM, Caruso RC, Sieving PA. Progressive and 'stationary' inherited retinal degenerations. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 6.14.

Gregory-Evans K, Weleber RG, Pennesi ME. Retinitis pigmentosa and allied disorders. In: Schachat AP, Sadda SR, Hinton DR, Wilkinson CP, Wiedemann P, eds. Ryan's Retina. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 42.

Olitisky SE, Marsh JD. Disorders of the retina and vitreous. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 648.