Eye Diseases Retinitis

Retinitis is an eye disease that can severely impact vision, especially night vision and peripheral vision. As retinitis can progress to blindness, it is important to diagnose early. Read on to learn more about retinitis.

What is Retinitis Pigmentosa?

Retinitis pigmentosa refers to a number of eye diseases that affect the retina of the eye. The retina is the part of the eye onto which images are focused.

Retinitis pigmentosa causes the photoreceptor cells in the retina to deteriorate. These cells are responsible for capturing and processing light and help us to see. When these cells deteriorate and ultimately die, patients experience progressive vision loss.

Patients can be affected by retinitis pigmentosa at different ages. Some people with the disease will have most of their vision for most of their lives. Others will become completely blind before they reach adolescence.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

Causes of Retinitis

Retinitis pigmentosa is typically inherited. The following types of retinitis are all inherited, but in different ways:

  • In autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa, an affected parent can have affected and unaffected children.
  • In autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa, unaffected parents can have both affected and unaffected children. In this type, there is no prior family history of retinitis.
  • In x-linked retinitis pigmentosa, the defect is linked to the X chromosome. Thus, some of the males in the family will have retinitis, while the females will be unaffected carriers of the genetic trait.

Retinitis Pigmentosa Symptoms

Retinitis pigmentosa symptoms will vary for each individual. That being said, night blindness, or nyctalopia, is often an early symptom of retinitis pigmentosa. With night blindness, people have a difficult time adjusting to low-light conditions and often have problems driving at night.

Other symptoms of retinitis include:

  • loss of central vision
  • loss of color perception
  • problems with their peripheral vision
  • seeing flashes of light either on a continuous or intermittent basis.

Retinitis Pigmentosa Treatments

Currently, medical researchers and doctors have not been able to find retinitis pigmentosa treatments. However, promising new treatments for retinitis pigmentosa are being investigated, including gene therapy, nutritional supplements and retinal replacements.

One of the retinitis pigmentosa legal issues revolves around stem cell research. Stem cell research may offer treatments for retinitis pigmentosa as well as other serious diseases. However, government funding for stem cell research is affected by ethical issues and more.

If someone in your family is diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa or if you think that you may have retinitis pigmentosa, you should contact your eye doctor and make an appointment for a complete exam as soon as possible.