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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Retinitis pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa awareness month

February is retinitis pigmentosa awareness month.
Learn more about this potentially disabling condition characterised by night blindness and "tunnel vision”.

What is Retinitis pigmentosa?

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an eye condition characterised

by progressive loss of visual field, diminished dark adaptation (night blindness)

and damage to the retina. In patients with retinitis pigmentosa, peripheral

(side) vision is lost, making moving around safely difficult. Thirty million people

worldwide are afflicted with age-related macular degeneration

and retinitis pigmentosa.

What causes Retinitis pigmentosa?

Retinitis pigmentosa is caused by mutations in genes that are

active in retinal cells. Gene mutations are programmed into cells at the

time of conception. Retinitis pigmentosa is not caused by injury, infection or

exposure to any toxic substance.

What Are the symptoms of Retinitis pigmentosa?

Many people with retinitis pigmentosa disease retain some sight all their lives. Others may go completely blind from Retinitis pigmentosa, in some cases as early as childhood. Patients with Retinitis pigmentosa have trouble adjusting well to dark and dimly-lit environments. They often experience vision loss in their mid-periphery with some vision in their very far periphery.

In some forms of Retinitis pigmentosa, prolonged, unprotected exposure to sunlight may accelerate vision loss.

However, since Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited disorder and runs in families, the disease is not preventable. Therefore, if someone in a family is diagnosed with retinal degeneration, it is strongly advised that all members of the family contact an eye care professional. There is no known cure at present.

What Are the Symptoms of Retinitis pigmentosa?

Normal visual acuity in early stages, possibly progressing to no light perception

Visual field loss progressing to loss of peripheral vision

Night blindness

Decreased response to magnification

Need for more light


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