Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of eye diseases that affect the light-sensing cells of the retina. As these cells deteriorate, vision loss slowly progresses. An examination by our ophthalmologist and testing at Eye Care Specialists of Florida in Kissimmee can help detect whether patients have this condition.
Causes of Retinitis Pigmentosa
Because RP is a genetic disease, it often starts in children. Over 100 different genes may cause it, and these genes may be inherited from one or both parents. In rare cases, an eye injury, certain medications, or eye infections may cause retinitis pigmentosa. While this disease can result in the loss of ideal vision, not everyone with it will become totally blind. In retinitis pigmentosa, the photoreceptors in the retina don't function properly. Therefore, they can't convert light into electrical impulses, which the brain interprets as vision.
Symptoms of RP
People with retinitis pigmentosa typically struggle to see well in dimly lit areas, and they often lose their peripheral or side vision first. Over time, their central vision, which affects their ability to read without the use of visual aids, can also deteriorate. Other symptoms include difficulty distinguishing colors and sensitivity to bright light.
How Our Eye Doctor Diagnoses RP
After applying drops to a patient's eyes to dilate them, our ophthalmologist can get a good look inside. Our eye doctor may also order a visual field test to assess peripheral vision and capture images of the retina. A test to evaluate how well a patient's eyes react to light may also be performed. An important step is genetic testing to determine precisely which gene is affecting sight.
Treatments for Retinitis Pigmentosa
Once all test results are available, our ophthalmologist discusses treatment options. These options can vary from patient to patient because this genetic disease is governed by a malfunctioning gene that regulates the cells in the retina. While vision loss from retinitis pigmentosa cannot be reversed, some medical studies indicate that taking vitamin A with caution and other supplements may slow its progression.
Some standard treatments include eye drops, oral medications, surgery, and special eyeglasses. Other courses of action are being explored by the federal government and private companies. The National Institutes of Health are funding new medications, gene therapies, and cell therapies.
Contact Us for Eye Care in Kissimmee, FL
An ophthalmologist near you can diagnose retinitis pigmentosa. Visit our office in Kissimmee for treatment and advice about any necessary vision aids and services that may be helpful. Contact Eye Care Specialists of Florida to schedule an appointment today.