F.A.Q. Your Questions Answered.
While there is not a cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa, there are alternative treatment options that have produced amazing results. For the past 20 years, our high volume practice in China has been helping thousands of patients restore vision that they didn’t think was possible.
We created this FAQ to help you decide if this is the best treatment option for you.
On this page you will find answers to frequently asked questions. We keep this page updated. If you can’t find the answer to your question here, feel free to ask us by send email to Carol at [email protected]
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Retinitis Pigmentosa is an inherited condition which involves both eyes. If it starts in one eye, the other eye usually develops the same condition in a number of years. Most cases are familial, inherited in a variety of ways—including dominant, recessive, and sex-linked recessive. Some cases are sporadic and lack a family history of the disease. Thorough genetic testing, often with the aid of a genetic counselor, is essential in determining risk of future generations acquiring the disease.
Retinitis Pigmentosa is usually diagnosed during a patient’s teenage years but may be present at birth. The latter congenital type is usually fairly stable and nonprogressive. Cases that are diagnosed later in life are often milder and may progress more slowly.
There are approximately 75,000 people in the United States with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). RP is sometimes associated with other systemic illnesses. Usher syndrome, characterized by retinitis pigmentosa and neural hearing loss, is the most common cause of deaf-blindness in the United States. The hearing loss usually is diagnosed earlier than the eye changes.
Although the history (especially the possibility of Retinitis Pigmentosa appearing in other family members) and complaints of the patient may make one suspect RP, it is primarily diagnosed by examination. The patient may complain of difficulty seeing at night or in low light condition. At some point, the ophthalmologist observes relatively characteristic clumping of pigment in the retina in a pattern described as resembling bone spicules. Fundus examination (looking at the back layers of the eye with the ophthalmoscope, an instrument allowing the visualization of the back of the eye by looking through the pupil) affords the view of the retina. A similar pattern may appear in congenital syphilis which is unrelated and must be distinguished.
Two tests are essential in the diagnosis and the follow-up exams.
Visual field testing will find defects in the peripheral (side vision) with the degree of loss related to defects in relation to the damage occurring in this disease. Over time, the visual field may reduce to a small central island of vision causing “tunnel vision.” The final progression may be the complete loss of the remaining central vision.
Electrophysiological testing by the ophthalmologist (often by referral to a university ophthalmology department, since very few private offices would have this equipment) is often diagnostic. Responses to flashes of light are measured via electrodes placed on the surface of the eye. It is a painless test. The electroretinogram (ERG), in conjunction with the visual field exam, will usually make the diagnosis. This will also determine if there is any cone involvement.
Recently, gene testing for defects is being done to clarify the basic cause for RP and assist in ultimately finding a cure.