Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)

What Is Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) refers to a group of diseases which cause a slow but progressive vision loss. In each of them there is a gradual loss of the light-sensitive retinal cells called rods and cones.

Most forms of RP are inherited or genetic, though its signs do not necessarily appear in every generation. Learning more about your family history may help you and your doctor to make informed decisions about treatment and eventually a cure for RP.

In some cases, RP may be associated with other health problems, such as hearing loss. People with RP may also develop other treatable eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataract.

Symptoms

  • Night blindness
  • Loss of peripheral vision

Symptoms usually start during young adulthood, although RP may be seen at any age.

The symptoms described above may not necessarily mean that you have retinitis pigmentosa. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor for a complete exam.

Treatment

Currently, very few treatments exist for persons with RP. Occasionally, the degeneration can be slowed to preserve vision for a longer time. Genetic studies of RP are a significant factor in finding a cure or prevention for this disease. The U-M is performing research on genetic factors of RP.

If you have late-stage retinitis pigmentosa (RP), you may be a candidate for the Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System (Argus II), a retinal implant that could provide partial sight for individuals with the disease.

 

Reviewed by Grant M. Comer, M.D. and John R. Heckenlively, M.D.