An Overview of Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa, or hereditary retinal dystrophy, is a condition that many families are already familiar with due to its genetic component. Although the name sounds like one condition, it refers to a group of different eye problems that all affect the retina and lead to vision loss. Today, retinitis pigmentosa affects around one in every 5,000 people around the world, which makes it the most common hereditary disease that impacts the retina. If you or a family member are predisposed to develop this eye health condition, then it is important to understand how it can impact your vision and the latest treatments that are available.

What Are the Symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa?

The speed at which someone with retinitis pigmentosa may lose their vision depends upon the type of condition that impacts their eyes. The symptoms of this condition can also impact several different aspects of your vision, which can lead to some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Decreasing night vision
  • Losing your central vision
  • Having trouble with your peripheral vision
  • Finding it harder to see certain colors
  • Struggling to see details in images

Can Genetic Testing Identify This Condition?

When you visit a retinal disease specialist in Brooklyn, they’ll often ask you if you have a family history of eye disease. If you already know that someone in your family has retinitis pigmentosa, then they may refer you for genetic testing to identify your risk for developing the condition.

A diagnosis may also occur after your eye doctor performs other types of tests and exams. An ophthalmoscopy might reveal changes in your eye that aid in the diagnosis. You can also expect to undergo vision tests that may include using eye charts and color defectiveness determination testing.

What Types of Treatment Are Available?

Retina specialists in NYC tend to use several forms of treatment to prevent or slow down vision loss in people with this condition. However, there isn’t yet a cure for retinitis pigmentosa due to the fact that there are more than 100 different genes that can cause the vision changes.

Currently, there are certain identifiable genetic mutations that respond to specific medications that may be delivered to the eye during retinal surgery. Or, your eye doctor may address specific changes to your eye health, such as by performing cataract removal or using medicated drops to stop swelling, that also help to preserve your vision.

People with retinitis pigmentosa should know that vision loss is likely as their condition progresses, but there is still a positive outlook for those who choose to prioritize their eye health. With regular vision exams, prompt interventional treatments and continuing care, you can expect to slow down the progression of your condition. Working closely with your eye doctor can also help you to understand any changes in your vision that do occur, and your ophthalmologist can help you explore accommodations to incorporate in your lifestyle that make it easier to cope with losing any aspect of your eyesight.