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Retinitis Pigmentosa

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What is RP?

RP refers to a group of diseases which tend to run in families and cause slow, but progressive loss of vision. The retina is the tissue which lines the inside of the eye and sends visual images to the brain. In RP, there is gradual destruction of some of the light sensing cells in the retina.

RP symptoms

The cause of retinitis pigmentosa has not been clearly identified. About 50 per cent of RP cases are sporadic with the remaining cases being hereditary. 

The first symptoms usually start during young adulthood, although it may be seen first at any age. The two most common symptoms are:

  • Night blindness - where adjusting to the dark happens very slowly
  • Loss of peripheral vision – Loss of peripheral (or side) vision makes mobility very difficult. Once this occurs, you are left with only central vision (as if looking down a tunnel).

Diagnosis and treatment

While developments are on the horizon, particularly in genetic research, there is no cure for retinitis pigmentosa. The retina is attached to the optic nerve and transplants are not yet an option.

Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to demonstrate benefits from any treatment methods--including vitamin supplements--currently available.

For the latest treatments, please see your ophthalmologist.

More information

For more information, visit the Canadian Ophthalmological Society or the RP Research Foundation.