Retinitis pigmentosa: what is it? Diagonale


Retinitis pigmentosa: what is it?

Progressive hereditary disease that gradually leads to blindness (permanent vision loss).

What are the causes ?

This genetic disease causes deterioration of the cones and rods of the retina. These are photosensitive cells essential for vision.

The cones are responsible for central vision, the perception of details as well as colors.

Rods are responsible for peripheral vision and vision in the dark.


When does she appear?

The first symptoms usually appear in adolescence and progress over the years. The speed of progression varies from person to person.

In rare cases, the observation of the first symptoms begins in adulthood.

There is 1 case for every 3500 to 4000 Canadians.


What are the symptoms/stages?

The rods are the first to be damaged. It is therefore night vision that is affected, up to partial or complete blindness in the dark.

Then it is the peripheral vision that is gradually damaged. The person begins to have tubular, or tunnel vision, which becomes smaller and smaller.

Central vision can be preserved for several years. However, after a variable time depending on the person, it is also lost, up to complete blindness.

The duration of this process will differ from person to person.


A person with retinitis pigmentosa may also be easily dazzled, or may have difficulty adjusting to changes in lighting.

This will also affect activities or social interactions: difficulties in moving around, moments of discomfort (difficulty reaching out, night blindness, etc.).

Example: With tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision), it will still be possible to read, but movement will be complicated. It may then be necessary to use a white cane to find your way around more easily.


What treatment?

There is currently no treatment to slow or stop the progression of the disease.

However, organizations exist to help you and find compensatory strategies, adaptations for your environment, provide advice and support for you and your loved ones.


Each year, the examination of the sight and the health of the eyes with your optometrist makes it possible to detect this type of affections.
Thus, your optometrist is able to refer you to the health professionals necessary to support you in your care and your adaptation.
If you notice changes in your vision or if you feel the need to, contact your optometrist for a follow-up of your eye health.

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