Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic condition, meaning it can be passed down in families. The type and speed of vision loss from retinitis pigmentosa varies from person to person. It depends on their form of the condition.
With retinitis pigmentosa, you may have vision loss in the following ways:
- Loss of night vision. Night blindness is when you cannot see anything in the dark. Your vision may be normal during the day. As you start losing night vision, it takes longer to adjust to darkness. You may stumble over objects or have trouble driving at dusk and at night. You might also find it hard to see in movie theaters or other dim rooms.
- Gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision. This is known as “tunnel vision.” You may find you bump into things as you move around. This is because you are not able to see objects below and around you.
- Loss of central vision. Some people also have problems with central vision. This can make it hard to do detailed tasks such as reading or threading a needle.
Problems with color vision. Some people may also have trouble seeing different colors.
How is retinitis pigmentosa diagnosed?
Retinitis pigmentosa can be diagnosed and measured by:
- Genetic testing. This test looks at a sample of your blood or other tissues to see if you have certain genes that are associated with a disease. It can also help determine the likely course or severity of a disease.
- Electroretinography. This test measures the electrical activity in the retina, or how well the retina responds to light. It works much like the EKG, which measures the activity and health of the heart.
- Visual field testing. Retinitis pigmentosa can affect your peripheral (side) vision. Visual field testing helps measure your side vision and find any blind spots that may be developing.
- Optical coherence tomography. Also known as OCT, this imaging test takes special, highly detailed pictures of your retina. It can help diagnose RP and find out how it is affecting your retina.