Do eye problems run in your family? If so, this is just one more reason to make sure that you see your eye doctor frequently for eye exams. Here is some information about retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that is handed down in families and can result in vision loss.
What Is Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a fairly rare condition, but you should be aware of it if someone in your family has serious vision problems. Symptoms of RP can start in childhood – these can include a loss of peripheral vision, a loss of color vision, and problems seeing when it is dark. Some may completely lose their vision at a very young age, while others may have their central vision until they are in their 50s.
RP is caused by gene mutations that affect the proteins in the eye. These mutations mean there are not enough proteins for the eye to function properly, or they can even mean the production of proteins that are toxic to eye cells. Over time, cells in the retina (the part of the eye that passes nerve impulses to the optic nerve so that what we see can be processed by the brain) may begin to die, so signals can no longer be sent to the brain.
What Can Be Done About RP?
There is no cure for RP yet, although researchers are working on it. There are medications and treatments that can be used to try to slow down the process of vision loss from RP; even vitamins and supplements, such as vitamin A, fish oil, and lutein supplements, can help (although you should discuss which supplements to take with your eye doctor). A patient with RP may also have a team of experts working together to develop the right combination of treatments and therapies to help the patient learn to live with the condition.
If vision problems run in your family, make sure that you let your eye doctor know this! And make sure to keep up with regular eye exams, by contacting the Eye Care Institute in Santa Rosa for an appointment. Call (707) 546-9800 today!