What is Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Pigmented retinitis or RP is the name given to a group of rare eye diseases in which retinal rod-photoreceptor cylindrical cells are involved with or without cone photoreceptor cone cells. Although the disease progresses over time, the progress of the disease varies from person to person. Its prevalence in the United States is 1/5000. It is the most common cause of night blindness.
What causes RP?
Retinitis pigmentation is a hereditary disease that occurs in various forms(Autosomal Recessive, Autosomal Dominant, and X-Linked). There is also one type of it that occurs individually, without a family history.
What are the signs and symptoms of PR?
In some RP cases, the symptoms show from an early age, but often there are little or no signs of this illness until adulthood. Symptoms of RP include:
• Reduced night vision or low light vision (night blindness or Nyctalopia)
• Loss of peripheral vision, which causes Tunnel Vision
• In some types of RP, and in advanced cases, there is also a reduction in central vision
Symptoms that may be seen by the ophthalmologist when looking at the bottom of the eye, are the black lines on the retina.
How is RP diagnosed?
• Clinical examination
• Perimetry to examine the peripheral visual field
• Evaluation of visual cell activity using ERG
What is the treatment for retinitis pigmentosa?
At present there is no specific treatment for this disease but paying attention to the following factors can help the patient:
• Wearing sunglasses to protect the retina against ultraviolet radiation.
• It seems that the use of certain antioxidants, such as vitamin A, slows down the progression of the disease. Recent studies have shown that the use of appropriate dosage of vitamin A supplements can delay blindness by 10 years.
• Referring to an obstetric specialist and regular ophthalmic examinations that lead to early cataract diagnosis and retinal swelling, both of which can be curable.
• Multiple microchips are in the early stages of design, which in the future may be installed in the retina and used to treat blindness caused by the disease.
• Stem cell transplantation is in the early stages of research and may play an important role in the future treatment of this disease.
What are the side effects of RP?
This disease can cause loss of peripheral vision and,in some cases,central vision. People with RP may suffer from cataract at a younger age.
What should be done to prevent RP?
Genetic counseling in patients suffering from this disease can greatly determine whether their children are at risk for the disease or not.