Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of rare, genetic eye diseases affecting the cells in the retina. It can one day lead to profound vision impairment.
But doctors and researchers are working to find new and better ways to detect and manage RP.
RP treatment can help you make the most of your vision.
To learn more about RP or make an appointment, call the UPMC Vision Institute at 412-647-2200 or 1-800-446-3797.
Doctors define RP as a group of rare eye diseases that get passed on through your genes. They all affect the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eye.
In a healthy eye, the retina captures the light coming into the eye. It then converts the light into nerve signals the brain interprets as vision.
The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and the photoreceptor cells are the retina's outermost layers. RP impairs the function of these cells, causing them to break down over time, leading to vision loss.
RP affects about one in 3,000 to 4,000 people worldwide and it is the most common inherited retinal disorder. About 100,000 people in the U.S. have it.
Most people with RP have a genetic condition – a broken gene – that gets passed down in families. We know of at least 60 different gene changes that cause RP.
A genetic counselor can help you learn more about your risk of passing RP to your children.
Very rarely, RP occurs along with other genetic conditions such as Usher syndrome. The word syndrome represents a condition encompassing multiple disorders.
Usher syndrome is the most common cause of combined hearing and vision loss.
The main risk factor is a family history of RP. But many cases present as isolated.
RP complications include:
RP progresses differently for everyone. In rare cases, it can lead to total loss of vision. But more commonly, your vision slowly gets worse.
Treatment and rehabilitation can help you make the most of the vision you have.
RP symptoms can appear in childhood or teenage years and gradually worsen as you age. Some people with RP lose their vision more quickly than others.
Symptoms of RP include:
To diagnose RP, your doctor will perform a dilated eye exam. They'll give you eye drops to widen your pupil. This lets them get a better view inside your eye.
Your eye doctor may also use the following tests for RP:
The experts at the UPMC Vision Institute offer a range of cutting-edge treatments for RP.
While there's no cure for RP, treatments may slow it down and help you adapt to the vision you have.
RP treatments include:
Currently, there's no cure for RP.
There is an FDA-approved treatment for only one type of RP caused by a gene called RPE65. But low vision treatment can make the most of your remaining sight even if a different gene causes your RP.
It's crucial for anyone with RP to have routine eye exams. Your eye doctor can keep track of your symptoms and treat any other problems early on.
Most people with RP lose vision but not completely.
Every person is different. There are many low-vision treatments and aids that can help you make the most of the sight you do have.
To plan a visit with an eye expert at the UPMC Vision Institute, call 412-647-2200 or 1-800-446-3797.