February is Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) Awareness Month! (part 1)RP is a rare, genetic disorder that breaks down the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
Early symptoms of RP are night blindness and loss of peripheral vision. Symptoms can appear in childhood and, often, children with RP have difficulty seeing in the dark. Over time, their visual field narrows, resulting in tripping and what looks like clumsiness because they aren't able to see properly. Also, bright lights are uncomfortable for people with RP, which is known as photophobia.
The disease usually progresses slowly, however progression can vary from person to person. Some may have very restricted eye sight in early adulthood, whereas others may retain eyesight until their 50s. Eventually, most people with RP have significant vision loss and/or blindness.
RP is normally diagnosed in one of the following 4 ways:
- Genetic Testing - a sampling of blood and tissues
- Electroretinography - measures electrical activity in the retina
- Visual Field Testing - measure side vision and blind spots
- Optical Coherence Tomography - highly details photos of retina