What is Retinitis Pigmentosa?


A cure for RP would mean independence for me. It would mean I would play a bigger role as a parent, I would do more things, I would help out more. I would probably help with maybe paying the bills and doing some of the finance stuff, driving the kids places, doing the grocery shopping.
~ Rosalinda Barrero

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an incurable eye disease that destroys retinal cells and ultimately leads to blindness. RP is an inherited disease that generally strikes people in their teens. Many go blind by the time they are 40.

The genetic mutations that lead to RP affect retinal photoreceptors, called rods and cones. Initially, the condition damages, and ultimately destroys, the rods, which are closely associated with night and peripheral vision.

Vision without and with Retinitis Pigmentosa

Unfortunately, the disease gets much worse. Without the neighboring rods, cones begin to die as well. These are the retinal cells that allow us to see faces, colors and details. Eventually, once the cones degenerate, patients become legally blind.

Initial symptoms include night blindness, blind spots and tunnel vision, which worsen over time.

Eye Comparison

RP affects 1.5 million people worldwide and is considered a rare, orphan disease. There are no effective treatments. Patients rely on special lenses and other vision aids to supplement their residual abilities. As they continue to lose their sight, these measures ultimately become ineffective.