Retinitis pigmentosa or RP is a group of medical condition that affects the eyes that will lead to loss of sight over time. All the conditions have one thing in common and that is the coloration found on the retina. This coloration is actually a bundle of tissue at the back of the eye. If there is RP, the cells on the retina are not able to function as they should. Over time the condition will result in loss of sight.
Retinitis pigmentosa is considered a rare condition. In fact, it is only passed from parent to child. Only 1 to 4,000 people get it. Studies show that an individual with RP has a family member that also has it.
The cells in the retina have two types: rods and cones. The rods are found in the outer ring of the retina and active in dim light. RP will affect the rods first. This will result in the inability to see the side or peripheral vision is lost and night vision is also lost.
The cones are found in the center of the retina. These cells are responsible for making see color in fine detail. In RP, the patient will gradually lose central vision and the ability to see color.
Although RP starts in childhood, the severity, as well as its development, will vary from one person to the other. Some individuals with diagnosed RP will lose their sight by early adulthood. Then usually at age 40, they become blind.
The first symptoms you will notice if you have RP are your inability to see at night or in dimly lit rooms. You may no longer be able to drive at night or may trip over objects in the dark.
Soon after, you may no longer be able to use your peripheral vision. It is called tunnel vision, or the inability to see to either side.
In later stages, when the cones are affected, you will no longer be able to make a detailed type of work or may have trouble seeing colors. You may also develop photophobia a condition where you are not very comfortable with bright lights. Seeing flashes of light that shimmer or blink is called photopsia.
If you think you are suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Retinitis Pigmentosa as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).