• What Is Retinitis Pigmentosa?

    Apr. 14, 2015

    Normal retina
    Normal retina

    Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of genetic disorders that affect the retina’s ability to respond to light. This inherited disease causes a slow loss of vision, beginning with decreased night vision and loss of peripheral (side) vision. Eventually, blindness results. Unfortunately, there is no cure for RP.

    The retina is the layer of light-sensing cells lining the back of your eye that converts light rays into nerve impulses. The impulses are sent through the optic nerve to your brain, where they are recognized as images.

    Retina with retinitis pigmentosa
    Retina with retinitis pigmentosa

    With RP, cells in the retina called rods and cones die. With most forms of RP, rods — which are mainly in the outer regions of the retina and are responsible for our peripheral and night vision — degenerate first. When the retina’s more centrally-located cones are affected, the result is loss of color perception and central (reading) vision.