Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited, degenerative condition that affects the retina - the light-sensitive part of the eye.
The retina consists of millions of light-sensitive photoreceptor cells, which transmit light to the brain via the optic nerve. RP causes some photoreceptor cells to fade gradually and die, losing the ability to transmit visual messages to the brain.
RP usually begins to affect people in their teenage years. Most people with RP experience gradual peripheral vision loss (or "tunnel vision"). They also have difficulties seeing at night or in areas with poor illumination.
Central vision is usually unaffected, so the person may still be able to read. However, this can also deteriorate and eventually lead to total blindness.
Functional implications of RP include:
- Having difficulty noticing objects at ground level, as well as head height and above.
- Tripping over or bumping into objects.
- Being unable to differentiate between the footpath and road.
- Having difficulty walking on uneven ground.
- Being particularly sensitive to glare and light.
- Having difficulty adjusting to lighting changes (for example, at dusk or sunrise).
- Having a limited view of objects.
- Seeing only a portion of images.
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