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Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited eye disease in which there is a breakdown of the nerve layer (retina) in the back of the eye. It can lead to blindness.
Often the first sign of the disorder is an inability to see in low light and darkness (night blindness). Those affected usually develop a ring-shaped blind spot surrounding the center of their visual field. This blind spot then expands to affect both central and peripheral (side) vision. Eventually all vision is lost.
There is no effective treatment for retinitis pigmentosa. There is some evidence that taking vitamin A supplements may help delay the progress of the disease.
Retinitis pigmentosa is often linked with nearsightedness, certain types of cataracts, and problems with the macula, the portion of the retina that provides sharp central vision.
Last Revised: August 24, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine & Carol L. Karp, MD - Ophthalmology
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