What is retinitis pigmentosa?

Retinitis pigmentosa is a collection of rare degenerative eye disorders that typically occur in people that have a family history of the disease.

In people with retinitis pigmentosa, cells in the back of the retina start to break down causing gradual vision loss. These cells detect light and send signals to the brain – this is how you see. The breakdown of these cells is unpredictable with some experiencing vision loss more quickly than others. The condition usually begins in childhood and can vary greatly, with symptoms often developing between the ages of 10 and 30.

Some of the early symptoms of retinitis pigmentosa are:

  • Night-blindness or difficulty seeing in dim light
  • Difficulty transitioning from light to dark, or vice versa
  • ‘Tunnel vision’ or a narrowing field of vision
  • Light sensitivity.

Unfortunately, there is no standard treatment or therapy for retinitis pigmentosa. However the Lions Eye Institute, alongside PYC Therapeutics, has been progressing a highly promising drug that could potentially treat many rare ocular diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa type 11. Clinical trials for this new drug therapy are due to begin this year.

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