Retinitis Pigmentosa - Treatment

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What is the treatment for retinitis pigmentosa?

As of now there is no specific cure for retinitis pigmentosa. For years, vitamin A therapy has been recommended for many RP patients, based on research dating back to the early 1990s. A randomized, controlled trial of vitamins A and E found that 15,000 IU a day of vitamin A palmitate could slow the course of the condition among adults with typical forms of RP. Vitamin E, however, at a 400 IU a day dose appeared to have an adverse effect on the course of RP in the same study.

Another study among adult patients with RP has shown that an omega-3-rich diet containing docosahexaenoic acid can further slow disease progression. Such a diet includes one to two 3-ounce servings per week of oily fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, or sardines. Researchers estimated that the combination of vitamin A plus this diet could provide almost 20 additional years of useful vision for adults who start the regimen in their 30s.

Serious research is being carried out with some progress being made in experiments in rats. (An international research team led by Columbia University Medical Center successfully used mouse embryonic stem cells to replace diseased retinal cells and restore sight in a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa.)

It is important to make a diagnosis so that the patient and family may be counseled as to the status of the disease, what the patient may do, and what low-vision treatments (in more advanced disease) might be available to allow maximization of the patient's visual potential.

Low-vision services will be very helpful in coping with the disease. This low-vision therapy may be provided in the eye specialists' offices or by referral to a low-vision center.

As the visual field constricts, efforts are being explored for the use of visual field expanding glasses.

If cataracts occur, they may be removed as in other patients with cataracts, usually with the use of an intraocular lens.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: usha, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 14

I took a six month course of homeopathic medicine some 11 year back. I have retinitis pigmentosa since my childhood and now I am almost 53. I still can work, but yeah, it's difficult but still going. As of now I take vitamin A, Ocuvite and preserved eye vitamin. I also take some home remedies like Amla (Indian gooseberry) powder first thing in the morning in empty stomach. So we don't give up; we try our best to keep in best shape.

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Comment from: Gossamer, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 12

I am a 56 year old female and was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) a few years ago. My older sister was diagnosed with RP about 10 years ago. I have center vision and peripheral vision. I'm missing a circle in between. The closer I am to something, the more trouble I have seeing what is near me. I can't find the pen, tape or spoon that I just put down. If I stand farther back then I can see more. I trip over the dog, and stairs often look like ramps which can be scary, I don't see colors correctly if they're not primary colors and it also takes a while to adjust going from lighted situations to dim ones and vice-versa. The only treatment I've had is a low dose water pill for water on the retina, looks like I'm seeing through water which I understand just happens with RP.

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