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Retinitis pigmentosa

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    There is no effective treatment for this condition. Wearing sunglasses to protect the retina from ultraviolet light may help preserve vision.

    Some studies have suggested that treatment with antioxidants (such as high doses of vitamin A palmitate) may slow the disease. However, taking high doses of vitamin A can cause serious liver problems. The benefit of treatment has to be weighed against risks to the liver.

    Several clinical trials are in progress to investigate new treatments for retinitis pigmentosa, including the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA.

    Microchip implants that go inside the retina and act like a microscopic video camera are in the early stages of development for treating blindness associated with this and other serious eye conditions.

    It can help to see a low-vision specialist, who can help you adapt to vision loss. Make regular visits to an eye care specialist, who can detect cataracts or retinal swelling -- both of which can be treated.

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    Expectations (prognosis)

    The disorder will continue to progress, although slowly. Complete blindness is uncommon.


    Peripheral and central loss of vision will eventually occur.

    Patients with retinitis pigmentosa often develop cataracts at an early age, or swelling of the retina (macular edema). Cataracts can be removed if they contribute to vision loss.

    Many other conditions have similarities to retinitis pigmentosa, including:

    • Friedreich's ataxia
    • Laurence-Moon syndrome (also called Laurence-Moon-Bardet-Biedl syndrome)
    • Mucopolysaccharidosis
    • Myotonic dystrophy
    • Usher syndrome (a combination of retinitis pigmentosa and hearing loss)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if night vision becomes difficult or if you develop other symptoms of this disorder.