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Retinitis pigmentosa is actually the name given to a group of hereditary eye disorders, all of which involve the eye's retina, the light-sensitive nerve layer that lines the back of the eye, and all of which cause a gradual, yet progressive, loss or reduction in visual ability.
Retinitis pigmentosa is caused by a variety of different inherited retinal defects - all of which affect the ability of the retina to sense light. The retinal defect may be found in the retina's rod cells (a type of retinal cell found outside of the central portion of the retina that help to transmit dim light and allow for peripheral vision), the retina's cone cells (a type of retinal cell found inside the center of the retina that help to transmit the color and detail of images), and/or in the connection between the cells that compose the retina.
The following are the most common symptoms of retinitis pigmentosa. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently, especially with severity and progression as the most obvious variables. Some persons with retinitis pigmentosa experience a slow, very progressive loss of vision, while others lose their visual ability much more quickly and severely. Other common symptoms may include:
The symptoms of retinitis pigmentosa may resemble other eye diseases. Consult a physician for diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and eye examination, your eye care professional may perform one or more of the following tests to determine how much of the retina is diseased:
Specific treatment will be determined by your physician(s) based on:
Unfortunately, to date, there is no specific treatment for retinitis pigmentosa. However, protecting the eye's retina with the use of UV sunglasses may be helpful in delaying the onset of symptoms. Consult your physician for more information.