Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic disorder of the eye, where the gradual deterioration of the retina occurs. The retina is the light-sensitive layer lining the back of the eye, which is responsible for the accurate focus of the light from objects, for clear vision. RP is also referred to as rod-cone dystrophy, as the rods and cones are two types of photoreceptor cells present in the retina of the eye. Also Checkout: World Sight Day: Do These To Promote Eye Vision-Infographic
This eye ailment is very rare and quite severe, resulting in a complete loss of vision. Currently, retinitis pigmentosa affects roughly 1 in 4000 people worldwide, with the onset often being in childhood.
The main cause of RP is defective genes in the eye, that is passed on from either one of the parents to the child. This inherited genetic disease is triggered due to aberrant and faulty DNA in the eye, resulting in improper structure and function of the retina.
The severity of RP varies from person to person. In minor cases, visual function is preserved up until the age of 50, beyond which the retina begins to disintegrate. However, in severe instances of retinitis pigmentosa, loss of sight begins in early childhood, below the age of 10 and ultimately leads to complete blindness.
Hence, it is very important to recognize the signs of RP at the earliest and seek prompt medical care, to effectively manage this eye condition.
The characteristic initial indications of retinitis pigmentosa include:
- Night blindness due to loss of function in rod cells
- Colour blindness
In the later stages, retinitis pigmentosa gives rise to:
- Diminishing of peripheral or side vision
- Difficulty in reading, walking and driving
- Complete loss of vision
Diagnosis And Treatment:
The eye doctor or ophthalmologist will examine the retina of the patient using an ophthalmoscope, to look for any dark pigments or streaks deposited on the tissue. This is followed by visual field testing and genetic testing, to determine the extent of vision loss and DNA damage.
The healthcare provider will also use a device called an electroretinogram, to observe the electrical activity of the rod and cone cells within the retina in the eye.
Once the diagnosis of RP is confirmed, the medical professional will decide the appropriate course of treatment depending upon the severity of the disease.
In minor instances of RP, the doctor prescribes very high doses of vitamin A and a well-balanced Vitamin A sufficient diet on a daily basis, to slow down the progression of the disease and help retain retinal function and improve eye health. Also Checkout: Eat These Foods To Beat Vision Problems-Infographic
However, in severe instances of this genetic eye disorder, there is no cure and the affected individual develops complete blindness at a young age.
To ensure the efficient management of RP, doctors recommend seeking assistance from occupational therapists, mobility experts and other artificial visual aid gadgets. This, in turn, will help the patient manage the gradual decline insight and perform normal day-to-day activities.