Retinitis pigmentosa

Labelled Diagram of the Eye

Labelled diagram of the structure of the retina

Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare hereditary condition (some sources say "group of conditions") characterized by progressive degeneration of the retina of the eye due to malfunctioning of the retinal pigment epithelium.

Retinitis pigmentosa may also be described as a form of progressive retinal dystrophy.

The symptoms / effects of retinitis pigmentosa

  • may begin with night blindness in childhood,
  • then progress to reducing peripheral vision (that is causing tunnel vision),
  • and eventually to total loss of vision (blindness).

The above reflects the typical progression of retinitis pigmentosa. However, the speed and extent of progression of retinitis pigmentosa can vary considerably from person to person. In the most extreme - and very rare - cases blindness may occur in childhood but others affected may never lose their sight completely (even assuming a normal lifespan).


Although there is no approved medical cure for retinitis pigmentosa, or medical treatments known to halt the visual degeneration that results from it, good support and visual aids can make it easier for those affected to cope with retinitis pigmentosa.

More about Ophthalmology:

This section includes short definitions of many diseases, disorders, and conditions of the eyes and visual system.
For definitions of other terms in this category, choose from the list to the left (but note that this is not a complete/exhaustive list).

Other related pages include

For further information see also our pages of books about ophthalmology.

The following books may also be of interest:

The Aging Eye (Harvard Medical School)
MCQ Companion to the Eye (Textbook)
The Secret of Perfect Vision: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Nearsightedness
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM) Glaucoma: The Essential Treatments and Advances That Could Save Your Sight

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