Retinitis Pigmentosa - Symptoms

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Please describe the signs and symptoms associated with retinitis pigmentosa.

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What are retinitis pigmentosa symptoms and signs?

Since retinitis pigmentosa begins as rod degeneration, the patient first notices increasing difficulty in night vision, followed by difficulty seeing in the periphery. Slowly progressive constriction of the visual field leads to tunnel vision. A small area of central vision in both eyes usually persists for years. Generally night blindness precedes tunnel vision by years or even decades. Total blindness eventually ensues in most cases. The age of appearance of legal blindness ranges from as early as childhood to as late as the 40s.

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Comment from: Lily, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: March 13

I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when I was 12. You may notice patterns are bendy, depth perception is trippy and black static in the corners of your vision. As it progresses the black static will cover more of your peripheral vision. Because you only have small areas of vision, you may catch a glimpse of something and then look, only to realize it was something else. You will also notice your night vision decreasing, everything slowly getting darker. Even light sources will travel less distance and illuminate less space. Unshielded light sources (like car lights, lamps, light bulbs, street lights) will have large light halos around them. This increased light sensitivity will require you to wear sunglasses on bright days, otherwise it may be painful. All of these symptoms are things I experienced when the rods in my eyes are the spots affected. As each case of retinitis pigmentosa is only similar to others, and each person's case is unique, it is difficult to say what will happen. The disease may stop there, and your cones may be left intact. This would leave you with central vision, but no peripheral vision. Or it may progress, eventually leading to total blindness. You'll know your cones are pigmented because your perception of color will begin to fail. Symptoms of rod pigmentation are loss of peripheral vision, night blindness and light sensitivity. Symptoms of cone pigmentation are color blindness and loss of central vision.

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Comment from: Lewis, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 03

I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in 2001, I am now 43. It is very hard to go out in public. I'm always tripping over people or running into the pole. People that don't know me get very upset when I bump into them. I sometime think I need to ask my doctor about using a walking stick. But then other people with RP are worse off than I am. I'm very thankful that I can still see.

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