Retinitis pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited eye disease in which there is a breakdown of the nerve layer (retina) in the back of the eye. It can lead to blindness.

Often the first sign of the disorder is an inability to see in low light and darkness (night blindness). Those affected usually develop a ring-shaped blind spot surrounding the center of their visual field, which then expands to affect both central and peripheral (side) vision. Eventually all vision is lost.

There is currently no effective treatment for retinitis pigmentosa. There is some evidence that taking vitamin A supplements may help delay the progress of the disease.

Retinitis pigmentosa is often associated with nearsightedness, certain types of cataracts, and problems with the macula, the portion of the retina that provides sharp central vision.

Last Updated: September 9, 2009

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, FRCSC - Ophthalmology

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