Retinitis Pigmentosa describes a group of eye conditions that can lead to vision loss.
What is common in these diseases is the deposition of pigment on the retina, something that the ophthalmologist will observe during the fundus examination. In patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa, over time the deposition of pigment causes degeneration and ultimately destruction of the photoreceptors of the eye. This results in the progressive loss of vision.
It is a rare disorder that is transmitted from parent to child. Statistically affects 1 in 4,000 people. About half of people with Retinitis Pigmentosa have a family member who also suffers from the same disease.
Retinitis Pigmentosa usually begins in childhood. But the exact time the condition will develop, as well as how quickly it develops, varies from person to person. Most people with Retinitis Pigmentosa is more likely that they will lose part of their vision from adulthood. Then, by the age of 40, they are often legally blind.
The retina has two types of photoreceptors (cells that collect light): rods and cones.
Rods are located mainly in the periphery of the retina and help us to see in conditions with dim light as well as in the periphery of our visual field. As Rods are usually affected first, the first symptom a patient may notice is that they need more time to adjust in low light conditions (e.g. when driving at night or when entering a movie theatre, etc.). Peripheral vision may begin to be affected (and eventually lost gradually) simultaneously or immediately after night vision loss. At this stage it is common for the patient to see only centrally, as if seeing through a tunnel - (tunnel vision).
As the condition progresses, so can the cones be affected. This usually makes the work and activities that require detail more difficult, while there may be a reduction in color perception. It is rare, but sometimes the cones are affected first, before the rods.
Photophobia can also be caused by bright lights.
Finally, the patient may see flashes of light that either glow or blink (photopsia).
In summary, the most common symptoms of pigmented retinopathy include:
More than 60 different genes have been identified and can cause different types retinitis pigmentosa. Parents can pass on the abnormal genes to their children in three different ways:
The diagnosis of pigmented retinopathy is made by a complete ophthalmological examination. During examination, the ophthalmologist uses special eye drops to dilate the pupils of the eyes (mydriasis) in order to be able to examine in detail your retina. This dilation can blur the patient's vision for few hours. In addition, some more specialized examinations may need to be done, such as:
If you, or someone in your family is diagnosed with pigmented retinopathy, all family members should see an ophthalmologist for a check-up.
There is no cure for retinitis pigmentosa, but research is being done worldwide to find solutions. Some options can slow down vision loss or even restore some vision:
In recent years, studies have been conducted on the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa, which are either genetic or based on the use of stem cells. To date, however, there is no solution that can be offered to patients.
At Emmetropia Eye Clinic, we are investing in new technology to ensure that all measurements, examinations, and treatments are performed accurately.
Our medical staff will inform you and advise you in detail on the best possible solution for your case.
At our Clinic there is a special medical retina department that, with the state-of-the-art technology available, can diagnose and monitor serious retinopathies such as Retinitis Pigmentosa. All modern mapping and diagnostic methods are available in Emmetropia to conduct a detailed and thorough investigation of the patient's eye condition.