People who suffer with Retinitis Pigmentosa lose their sight over time, if proper treatment measures are not taken. This is a group of eye diseases that causes eye-sight loss. In this condition, photoreceptors or retina cells don’t work properly, which gradually leads to loss of sight. Though it is a rare disease, but it can be genetic, which means the disease can be passed from parent to child. When a person is affected by Retinitis Pigmentosa, it affects the person’s side vision and night vision initially. Later, it gradually affects the central vision and affects the person’s ability to see color.
Though the disease starts usually in childhood, but it actually varies on person to person when it begins and how quickly it worsens. By early adulthood, most people with retinitis pigmentosa lose much of their eyesight. By the time they reach around 40, most of them become completely blind.
The first symptom that is usually noticed is night blindness or the problem to adjust to darkness. For example, if the person walks into a dimly lit room from bright sunshine, he/she may take longer than usual to adjust and even trip over objects.
Soon after the night vision declines, the person may lose peripheral vision. This means the person will not be able to see things to side if he/she doesn’t turn head.
In the final stage of the disease, it will be increasingly difficult for the person to see colors. Also, it will be harder to do detail work. Some people also starts having photophobia, which is a symptom that makes bright lights uncomfortable. They may also start seeing light flashes that blink or shimmer. This symptom is called photopsia.
Parents can pass the disease to their children, which mean this is a genetic problem. Different types of retinitis pigmentosa can be caused by sixty different genes.
The common tests to determine retinitis pigmentosa include:
This eye disorder does not have any treatment to cure completely. However, research and studies are being conducted in search of new possible treatments. There are some treatment measures that can reduce the pace of vision loss and may even restore some sight.
The doctors may prescribe some medications like acetazolamide to improve vision or ease swelling. This is usually applied in the later stages when the small area at the middle of retina swells.
Some doctors also recommend high doses of Vitamin A palmitate to slow down retinitis pigmentosa. However, it is extremely important to use this as per doctor’s recommendation, as too much of it can be toxic.
In the later stages of retinitis pigmentosa, retinal implant might be suggested to provide partial sight.
There are some other treatments, which are still under review such as gene therapy where health genes are put into the retina or damaged cells or tissue replacement with healthy ones.
However, it is very important that the person use sunglasses as they protect eyes from ultraviolet rays and make less sensitive to light. This reduces the pace of vision loss.
Treatments for retinitis pigmentosa depend on the method utilized. For example, stem cell therapy for retinitis pigmentosa can cost $9,000 and above. In foreign destinations, treatment options in other countries such as Mexico or Thailand may enjoy savings of between 35% and 50% on costs incurred in the U.S.
An ophthalmologist should be licensed and trained and certified to perform eye treatment procedures. He or she should also be trained to use of laser and ultrasound equipment. A good choice would be a doctor who is recognized by a renowned medical board or one who is associated with an academic medical center as they are more apt to be trained in new or advanced procedures.
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