Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of eye issues that affect the retina. This condition alters how the retina responds to light, making it hard to see. People with retinitis pigmentosa lose their vision over time. Usually, though, they will not become completely blind. 

Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic condition, meaning it can be passed down through genes in families. The type and speed of vision loss from retinitis pigmentosa changes from person to person. It depends on their personal form of the condition. 

With retinitis pigmentosa, you may have vision loss in these ways: 

  • Loss of night vision. Night blindness is when you aren’t able to see anything in the dark. Your vision might be normal during the day. As you start losing night vision, it takes longer for your eyes to adjust to darkness. You may trip over objects or have trouble driving at dusk and in the evening. You might also find it difficult to see in movie theaters or other dim rooms. 

Loss of peripheral (side) vision. This is known as “tunnel vision.” You may find yourself bumping into things as you move around. This is because you are not able to view objects below and around you. 

  • Loss of central vision. Some people also have issues with central vision. This can make it hard to do detailed tasks such as reading a book or threading a needle. Difficulty with color vision. Some people may also have issues seeing different colors. 

Can Retinitis Pigmentosa Be Treated? 

There is no single treatment for retinitis pigmentosa. Scientists are studying why and how retinitis pigmentosa happens within families. They hope to develop treatments based on this information. 

Research shows that taking certain vitamins, including vitamin A palmitate, may help some people with retinitis pigmentosa. Your ophthalmologist can tell you if these vitamins might be helpful for you. If so, he or she can recommend which vitamins and how much you should take. 

People with low vision can learn to make the most of their remaining sight. There are many devices and ways to do things differently that can help with tasks. Vision specialists can teach you to use these tools and techniques. 

If you have retinitis pigmentosa and plan to have children, you might want to speak with a genetic counselor to learn about your chance of passing this eye condition on to your children.