What is Retinitis pigmentosa?
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic eye disease that causes cells in the retina to break down, reducing the patient’s ability to see clearly. Fortunately, a low vision optometrist can help those with RP regain independence. An estimated 1 in 4,000 individuals are affected by this sight-threatening condition, and about half of the people who have RP will have an affected family member as well.
The most common symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa include decreased peripheral vision and trouble seeing at night. Though there is no cure for most causes of this eye disorder, there are gene therapies in the works. Luxterna has recently entered the market as a prescription gene therapy product used for the treatment of patients with inherited retinal disease due to mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene, which can only be confirmed through genetic testing. To use this medication, you must have enough remaining cells in your retina.
Fortunately, RP can be effectively managed with the help of a low vision eye doctor. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with RP, we can help. An IALVS eye doctor will provide low vision aids and devices, as well as the practical skills needed to manage the condition to ensure the highest possible quality of life.
What Causes Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Retinitis Pigmentosa is an inherited condition that results from a mutation in the genes responsible for the healthy development of photoreceptors (cells within the retina that turn light into electrical signals sent to the brain). Cones and rods are the two types of photoreceptors, both of which can be affected by RP. Most forms of RP initially cause a degeneration of the rods, making it harder to see in dim light. As the condition progresses, the cones, situated at the center of the retina, will be affected. Once the rods become damaged, it is difficult to perceive fine detail and recognize colors.
Many people with RP develop the condition in childhood or adolescence. The rate of progression varies from patient to patient, but in most cases, a person with RP will become legally blind by the age of 40. Fortunately, an IALVS low vision eye doctor can help maximize your remaining vision, enabling you to keep doing the things you love to do.
Improve Daily Living With a Low Vision Doctor
We understand that vision loss due to Retinitis Pigmentosa can make it challenges to perform ordinary tasks — such as reading, watching TV, and recognizing faces, all of which become increasingly difficult for patients with RP.
The beginning stages of RP generally involve loss of peripheral vision and night-blindness. You may find it hard to adjust to a dark or dimly lit room after entering from a bright environment. You may need to stop driving at night as the poorly lit streets become harder to navigate. Peripheral vision loss leads to tunnel vision, so you’ll need to turn your head to view objects that aren’t directly in front of you.
Unfortunately, as the condition worsens, you may develop central vision loss, making it difficult to see details and colors. This can make it harder to recognize faces, as vision becomes even more blurry.
The good news is that a IALVS low vision doctor can offer the tools, strategies and devices to help you maximize your vision so that you continue to maintain an active lifestyle and do the things you love.
Increasing the Level of Independence In Patients With Retinitis Pigmentosa
A diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa shouldn’t keep you from living life to the fullest. Whether you enjoy reading, watching TV, traveling, or socializing, a specific low vision aid will help you do the things you love and keep your independence.
Below is a list of commonly used low vision aids and glasses:
- Side-vision awareness glasses
- Bioptic telescopic glasses
- Low vision magnifying reading glasses
- Prismatic reading glasses
- Tele-microscopic glasses
- Reverse telescopic glasses
- Custom-made optical systems
- Digital magnifiers or close circuit television (CCT)
- Hand-held magnifiers
Whether you are experiencing peripheral vision loss, central vision loss, or night blindness, an IALVS eye doctor will work with you and recommend the optimal low vision aids and eyeglasses to meet your needs. There is hope for patients of all ages with Retinitis Pigmentosa — call us today to start your path towards an improved quality of life.