Group of related diseases that tend to be hereditary and cause loss of vision



Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) describes a group of related diseases that tend to be hereditary, and cause a gradual and progressive loss of vision. RP typically affects both eyes equally and severity ranges from no vision problems in some families to blindness at birth in others. While there is a significant genetic component to RP, 40 percent of people with RP have no known family history of the condition.

Risk factors

There is a correlation between Usher’s syndrome, a condition in which a person is both deaf and blind, and RP. Studies suggest that up to ten percent of RP patients are deaf.


The earliest symptom of RP is night blindness or difficulty with night vision, often noticed in childhood. A loss of side vision, or tunnel vision, is also common to RP progression. The combination of night blindness and the loss of peripheral vision can lead to legal blindness.


There currently is not a known cure for RP, but nutritional supplements are thought to be able to affect RP both positively and negatively. An ophthalmologist can advise regarding the risks and benefits of vitamins.