What is Retinitis pigmentosa?
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic eye disease that causes cells in the retina to break down, reducing the patient’s ability to see clearly. Fortunately, a low vision optometrist can help RP regain independence. An estimated 1 in 4,000 individuals are affected by this sight-threatening condition, and about half of the people who have RP will have an affected family member as well.
The most common symptoms of RP include decreased peripheral vision and trouble seeing at night. Though there is no cure for most causes of this eye disorder, there are gene therapies in the works. As of now, Luxterna is a prescription gene therapy product used for the treatment of patients with inherited retinal disease due to mutations in both copies of the RPE65 gene, which can only be confirmed through genetic testing. You must also have enough remaining cells in your retina as determined by your healthcare professional.
Fortunately, RP can be effectively managed with the help of a low vision eye doctor. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with RP, we can help. Contact Dr. Shaun Golemba, who will provide low vision aids and devices, as well as the practical skills needed to manage the condition to ensure the highest possible quality of life.
What Causes Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Retinitis Pigmentosa is inherited and results from a mutation in the genes responsible for the healthy development of photoreceptors (cells within the retina that turn light into electrical signals sent to the brain). Cones and rods are the two types of photoreceptors, and both can be affected by RP. Most forms of RP first cause a degeneration of the rods, making it harder to see in dim light. As the condition progresses, the cones, which are situated in the center of the retina, will be affected. Once the rods become damaged, it is difficult to perceive fine detail and color.
Many people with RP develop the condition in childhood or adolescence. The rate of progression varies from patient to patient, but in most cases a person with RP will become legally blind by the age of 40. Fortunately, a low vision eye doctor can help maximize remaining vision, enabling you to keep doing the things you love to do.
Improve Daily Living With a Low Vision Doctor
We understand that vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa can pose challenges in performing ordinary tasks - and we're here to help. Activities like reading, watching TV, and recognizing faces become increasingly difficult for patients with RP.
The beginning stages of RP generally involve loss of peripheral vision and night-blindness. You may find it hard to adjust to a dark or dimly lit room after entering from a bright environment. You may need to stop driving at night as the poorly lit streets become harder to navigate. Peripheral vision loss leads to tunnel vision, so you'll need to turn your head to view objects that aren't directly in front of you.
Unfortunately, as the condition worses, you may develop central vision loss, making it difficult to see details and colors. This can make it harder to recognize faces, as vision becomes quite blurry.
The good news is that there are several ways that Dr. Shaun Golemba can help you maximize your vision in order to continue working and maintain an active lifestyle.
Increasing the Level of Independence In Patients With Retinitis Pigmentosa
A diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa shouldn't hinder you from living life to the fullest. Whether you enjoy reading, watching TV, traveling, or socializing, there is a suitable low vision aid that will help you do the things you love and keep your independence.
Some low vision aids and glasses available include:
- Side-vision awareness glasses
- Bioptic telescopic glasses
- Low vision magnifying reading glasses
- Prismatic reading glasses
- Tele-microscopic glasses
- Reverse telescopic glasses
- Custom-made optical systems
- Digital magnifiers or close circuit television (CCT)
- Hand-held magnifiers
Whether you are experiencing peripheral vision loss, central vision loss, or night blindness, Dr. Shaun Golemba will work with you and recommend the perfect low vision aids and eyeglasses to meet your needs. There is hope for patients of all ages with retinitis pigmentosa - call us today to start your path to an improved quality of life.