Retinitis Pigmentosa

A gradual loss of vision over a long period of time

What is Retinitis Pigmentosa

A person with this disease slowly loses their vision over the course of their life due to worn out cells in their eyeballs.

The Nervous System

Retinitis Pigmentosa affects the nervous system which normally works by sending signals back and forth between the brain and other parts of the body. Eyes function by letting light through the pupil and towards the retina. When the light hits the rods and cones in the retina, it sends signals through the optic nerve to the brain to process the image. When a person has Retinitis Pigmentosa the rods and cones in the retina wear out and don't have the ability to make a signal to send to the brain.

Picture From : staff. "Blausen gallery 2014". Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

How Your Eyes Work

Who can get this disease and when will they get it?

  • Retinitis Pigmentosa is passed down genetically
  • both genders can get this disease
  • it is not specific to any race
  • symptoms most commonly start between childhood and 30 years old
  • it is ¨the most common cause of childhood blindness¨
  • there are about 1.5 million people in the world who have the disease
Big image

BAGLEY, KATHERINE. "An Implantable Bionic Eye." Popular Science 278.4 (2011): 50. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 9 Jan. 2015.


In order to diagnose this, the pupils need to be dilated to see the retinas in the back of the eyes. They take photographs that show any differences in the color of the retina and how they produce the signals. They may also take eye tests where you click a button when you see a light flash.

Signs and Symptoms

  • hard to see in bad lighting
  • slowly losing your peripheral vision
  • may have an affected central vision
  • worse vision over life time
  • glare from lights are a problem
  • tunnel vision
  • harder or impossible for eyes to adjust in the dark


There is no known cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa, however there are a few treatments even though they might not work for everyone. One of these treatments is a retinal implant. This is a chip that contains electrodes which help the retina to produce the signal to send to the brain. This would be used when the vision is at the worst stage. There are a few things that could also slow down the process such as wearing sunglasses, taking antioxidants or vitamin A. However, too much vitamin A can be bad for your body.


The prognosis for Retinitis Pigmentosa is a gradual loss of vision eventually leading to blindness although it could take a lifetime. Someone with this disease may also develop cataracts which is clouded vision and may need cataract surgery.

My Connection

I learned about this disease from my uncle because he and his brothers all have Retinitis Pigmentosa and I wanted to know more about it.