• What Is Retinitis Pigmentosa?

    Written by: Kierstan Boyd
    Reviewed by: Raj K Maturi MD
    Sep. 01, 2016

    Normal retina
    Normal retina

    Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of eye problems that affect the retina. This condition changes how the retina responds to light, making it hard to see. People with retinitis pigmentosa lose their vision slowly over time. Usually, though, they will not become totally blind.

    Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic condition, meaning it can be passed down in families. The type and speed of vision loss from retinitis pigmentosa varies from person to person. It depends on their form of the condition.

    Retina with retinitis pigmentosa
    Retina with retinitis pigmentosa

    With retinitis pigmentosa, you may have vision loss in the following ways:

    • Loss of night vision. Night blindness is when you cannot see anything in the dark. Your vision may be normal during the day. As you start losing night vision, it takes longer to adjust to darkness. You may stumble over objects or have trouble driving at dusk and at night. You might also find it hard to see in movie theaters or other dim rooms.
    • Gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision. This is known as “tunnel vision.” You may find you bump into things as you move around. This is because you are not able to see objects below and around you.
    • Loss of central vision. Some people also have problems with central vision. This can make it hard to do detailed tasks such as reading or threading a needle.
    • Problems with color vision. Some people may also have trouble seeing different colors.