Retinitis Pigmentosa refers to a group of inherited eye diseases causing the degradation of the retina. As we have discussed throughout the retina section of this website, the retina is a critical component of the eye responsible for interpreting images and transmitting them onto the brain. When retinitis pigmentosa develops, the cells, which are called rods and cones, die. The loss of visual fields is the indicator for retina pigmentosa and begins as a ring like distortion in the mid-periphery. Throughout the course of this degenerative eye disease the central vision is also lost and the result is tunnel vision. As a result of this progression patients are told not to drive automobiles even in the early stages.
There is little known about what causes Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), other than the fact that the disease is inherited and can be passed even if only one parent has the disease. Retinitis Pigmentosa is a rare condition affecting about 1 in 4,000 people in the United States. (source: NY Times)
Many people are surprised to learn that there are no viable treatment options for Retinitis Pigmentosa. It is suggested to wear ultra-violet light protecting sunglasses to help preserve vision. The eye doctors at Thomas Eye in greater Atlanta work with patients to preserve their vision. There are currently several organizations working on treatment studies that are suggesting that the use of antioxidants may also slow the disease from getting worse.
Sources: The Juliette Foundation, Robert Melendez, MD,
Our retina specialists are board-certified in ophthalmology and fellowship-trained as specialists in retina/vitreous medicine and surgery. Both have also been recognized throughout their careers, by colleagues and patients, for compassionate patient care and surgical skill.
Dr. Paul L Kaufman, M.D.
Dr. Jessica D. McCluskey, M.D.
Dr. Gregory M. Lewis, M.D.