Retinitis Pigmentosa: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Therapy
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is the name for a group of hereditary ocular diseases, during which the retina (retina) is destroyed. Gradually, the net cells die off: as a rule, the rods, which are located in the periphery of the retina, die first. The cones in the centre of the macula remain intact.
Distribution of the RP gene
In Germany, about 30,000 to 40,000 people suffer from this disease, around 3 million worldwide. It is estimated that every eightieth time carries an “unfavourable” altered RP gene.
Thus, such a gene carries a genetic information which can initiate the development of this network disease in gene carriers or their offspring.
Retinitis pigmentosa: symptoms and sequelae
The first episode of the RP, which usually occurs in youth or young adulthood, is mostly night blindness. Gradually colour and contrasts are lost, later the visual acuity diminishes and the field of vision becomes narrower until after a few years there remains only a small central ray. Hence the term ” tunnel vision ” or “tube face “.
At this stage, the RP patient sees, for example, the glass in front of him on the table, but no longer the bottle that is right next to it. Despite the still preserved central visual acuity, the orientation in strange rooms or on the street is now no longer possible.
Many people who suffer from this disease are completely blind during their lifetime. Retinitis pigmentosa is the most common cause of visual loss in middle age.
Diagnosis in retinitis pigmentosa
The retinitis pigmentosa is a hereditary disease caused by a modified gene. Prevention is not possible. The most important method for early detection of this disease is electroretinography (ERG).
The visual field, the visual acuity, the colour fringe and the darkness are examined, as well as the retina current curve is measured as well as the eye background.
RP: Measures and Therapy
So far, there is no way to slow down or stop the process of dying of the visual cells surgically, medically or by diet. The great hope is placed in molecular genetics in order to detect the pathological changes in the genetic material and to find a possible therapeutic approach.
Various research projects have been ongoing for many years with the aim of helping people who are blinded by degenerative retinal diseases to be able to see again. In the meantime, various retinal chips have been developed, with which some subjects experienced at least light-dark perceptions in clinical trials and even could recognize schematic outlines.
In the foreseeable future, this development will at least allow orientation. For all other tasks of the eyes, the people suffering from RP remain dependent on electronic visual aids, on speech computers and the additional Braille keyboard on the PC.
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