Tom Tarrant’s blog I: life with retinitis pigmentosa

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“My blindness is something I’ve been confronting my whole life.” Tom Tarrant is a successful young San Francisco businessman, a selfstarter who’s pursued a fast career track with an MBA from Berkeley. He has retinitis pigmentosa, first diagnosed when he was six years old. “I guess I’ve been confronting it in bits and pieces,” he reflects. “My prognosis to get progressively more blind as I get older is not always easy to deal with. But it’s critical to understand how to deal with it, to understand that this disease is not stable.”

Tom Tarrant is one of approximately 100,000 people in the United States and more than 1.5 million worldwide with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), the name given to a group of diseases that cause degeneration of the retina. Retinitis pigmentosa and related conditions are difficult diseases to describe because they occur in many variations and progress at different rates for different people.

If you or someone you know has RP, you may feel confused about what this means and uncertain or frightened by what the future may hold. This booklet will give you information that can address some of your concerns. There are many feelings and experiences that people with RP share. Knowing and understanding what it is; learning how others have handled the changes it brings to their lives; and becoming aware of the efforts develop effective prevention and treatment, are valuable to anyone with RP.

The information provided here will answer many of your questions, but because of the wide variety of retinal degenerative diseases, the general descriptions given here can provide only an introduction to the subject. If you suspect that you or someone you know has a retinal degenerative disease, or any other eye problem, that individual should consult an eye care professional. Only by knowing the full details of an individual’s physical eye examination and family history can the nature and degenerative progress of the condition be understood, its full meaning explained, and appropriate care determined.