Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), also called rod cone dystrophy, is a group of related eye disorders that cause progressive vision loss. These disorders affect the retina, a layer at the back of the eye, containing light-sensing cells. This condition changes how the retina responds to light. In the early stages of RP, rods are more severely affected than cones. The rods are around the outer ring of the retina and are active in dim light. Cones are mostly in the center of your retina. They help you see color and fine detail.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare inherited degenerative inherited eye disease that causes severe vision impairment. The first signs usually occur in childhood.
- Symptoms are often noticed between the ages of 10 and 40 years old
- It occurs in about 1 of every 4000 people in the US
- This genetic trait at times is dominant and likely to be passed along to the next generation or can be recessive and not present for many generations
With RP you may have vision loss in the following ways:
- Loss of night vision
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision
- Problems with color vision
- Eventual loss of central vision
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have shown that vision loss associated with a form of retinitis pigmentosa can be slowed dramatically by reprogramming the metabolism of photoreceptors, or light sensors, in the retina.