Retinal Disorder

Eye and Retina


Retinal Disorder: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinal disorders can come in many forms and degrees. Retinitis pigmentosa is a very rare retinal disorder that causes degeneration of your retina. Unfortunately, this condition will continue to degenerate to the point of extreme loss of sight.

On the other hand, it is easier to diagnose this condition because more often than not, it is genetic. In fact, if both parents do not have this retinal disorder, yet carry the altered gene, it can surface in the child. In the United States, approximately 1% of the population carry this altered gene but do not have this problem. As early as possible, if there is any history of this retinal disorder, parents-to-be are advised to seek genetic counseling to help them deal with the possibility of having a child with this condition.

It usually starts showing symptoms at an early age when the child’s vision starts to narrow and has difficulty seeing at night. The peripheral vision will also be affected and can get worse over time. The last stage before total blindness is when the central vision is very minimal and the child can barely see with minimal tunnel vision remaining.

Most ophthalmologist will consider other conditions that can occur with retinitis pigmentosa. It is commonly seen as a group of diseases, and not often happens as an individual eye problem. For instance, cataracts can develop, even at an early age. Usher Syndrome which is a condition that affects the hearing is also common among those suffering from retinitis pigmentation.

At present, treatment for retinitis pigmentosa has yet to be found. Once damage has affected the sight, it cannot be reversed. However, if you have any history of eye problems in either parent, visiting an ophthalmologist early and consistently over time for an eye exam to check your child’s eyes is highly recommended.

An ophthalmologist can conduct an eye exam on the retina and check the responses of the retina to light. Some doctors will recommend supplemental vitamins known to aid eyesight like Vitamin A, but there is no real evidence that it can stop this retinal condition. Other medical experts would rather ask the patient to try vision devices like sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV rays and slow down the progress of this condition. These devices can help them see, and slowly accept their condition as early as possible.

At present, there are studies being conducted to find drugs to treat this condition, as well as retinal implants through eye surgery. There are even studies on artificial retina as an alternative to implants. Any other kind of eye surgery at the moment, like laser, is not yet an option.

Family members should be examined so that the inheritance pattern can be determined if possible. If the disorder is present in other family members, genetic counseling should be considered before having children.

No conventional treatment can reverse retinal damage. Vitamin A Some Trade Names AQUASOL A is recommended by some doctors in an attempt to slow the progression of the disorder. Gene therapy and implantable cells that make a compound to nourish the retina are under investigation.