Retinitis Pigmentosa

DEFINITION: Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is the common name for the diseases of cell communities in the retina called rods, which allow us to see in a dark and dim environment. The disease involves both of the eyes. It starts with a deterioration in the ability to see in darkness and continues with a decrease in visual ability and loss of peripheral vision. Although the disease usually occurs during childhood and adolescence, it may emerge at any age. Central vision may be lost over time.

Figure 1. Fundus photographs of a patient diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (left) and a healthy individual (right).

RISK FACTORS AND CAUSES: Most patients have genetic inheritance. It is more common in men than women, with a frequency of 1 out of 4000 people.  The age at which the disease starts and its progress change from one person to another, since the genetic type also changes accordingly. Some patients lose their visual ability at an early age, while some have enough visual ability to take care of themselves for the rest of their lives.

FINDINGS: The most important complaint of patients is night blindness. Patients may strike objects and fall in dim environments. They have difficulty in adapting to darkness after a bright environment. As the disease advances, deterioration may occur in visual sharpness, color vision, and peripheral vision.

Figure 2. Visual field analysis in a patient with retinitis pigmentosa (left) and visual field analysis of a healthy individual (right).