Retinal health is essential to good vision. The retina is the tissue lining the back of the eye that contains photoreceptors. These specialized cells are responsible for converting light energy into electrical nerve signals which then travel through the optic nerve to the brain where they are perceived as vision.
Retinal atrophy is a rare, hereditary disorder that can cause permanent blindness. It occurs as a result of the death of photoreceptor cells, commonly called rods and cones, in the eye. It usually occurs in teens and may cause complete blindness by 40 years old.
Only about 10,000 people in the United States suffer from this hereditary eye disease. It is a result of a genetic mutation in the eye that causes photoreceptor cells to manufacture the wrong protein for the eye.
Decreasing vision is the first symptom of retinal atrophy. It may begin as early as your teenage years. Night blindness is another early symptom. The rods in the eye are the first to deteriorate, they are responsible for discerning objects in low light conditions. Tunnel vision typically occurs next; where a person’s peripheral vision is obscured. Central vision loss occurs in the last stages of this disease and accompanies the onset of permanent blindness.
The diagnosis of retinal atrophy is made after a thorough retinal examination, lab tests (including genetic testing) and an extensive medical history.
Currently, there are no treatments available for retinal atrophy, however there is a great deal of promising research going on today. At this time, prevention is limited to genetic testing in an effort for parents to avoid passing these disorders on to their children.
To learn more about this rare disease, contact Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 or associatedretinaconsultants.com.