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What actually is Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) refers to a group of diseases, which causes a slow, but progressive vision loss. It is a genetic disorder that affects the ability to respond to light.This inherited disease causes a slow loss of vision, beginning with decreased night vision and loss of peripheral (side) vision and eventually results in blindness.
Causes: Retinitis pigmentosa is often hereditary (runs in families). If you or your partner has retinitis pigmentosa, there may be up to a 50 percent chance that you will pass it on to your children. Ask your ophthalmologist about genetic counseling if you are planning to have children.
- Slow loss of vision
- Beginning of decreased night vision
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Difficulty in identifying colours
Diagnosis: If you have poor night vision or a loss of side vision or if there is a history of retinitis pigmentosa in your family, your ophthalmologist will conduct a comprehensive eye exam to determine if you have retinitis pigmentosa. Your ophthalmologist will dilate your eyes to look at the back of them for signs of disease.
Treatment: Currently there is no known cure for retinitis pigmentosa. However, research has shown that vitamin A palmitate may slow the progression of certain forms of RP. Your ophthalmologist can advise you about the risks and benefits of vitamin A palmitate and how much you can safely take. Taking too much vitamin A palmitate can be toxic, and evidence of vitamin A palmitate effect on RP progression is not substantial.
Another recommendation for slowing vision loss from RP is to wear sunglasses to protect your retina from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light.
Retinal prosthesis is also an important area of exploration because the prosthesis, a man-made device intended to replace a damaged body part, can be designed to take over the function of the lost photoreceptors by electrically stimulating the remaining healthy cells of the retina.
Night blindness is also called nyctalopia.It's a type of vision impairment. People with night blindness experience poor vision at night or in dimly lit environments. It is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem, usually a retina problem.
What Causes Night Blindness?
A number of eye conditions can cause night blindness, including:
- Nearsightedness or blurred vision when looking at faraway objects.
- Cataracts or clouding of the eye's lens.
- Retinitis pigmentosa, which occurs when dark pigment collects in your retina and creates tunnel vision.
- Vitamin A Deficiency
- Zinc Deficiency
- Dry Eyes
Are the Symptoms of Night Blindness?
The sole symptom of night blindness is difficulty seeing in the dark. You're more likely to experience night blindness when your eyes transition from a bright environment to an area of low light, such as when you leave a sunny sidewalk to enter a dimly lit restaurant. You're likely to experience poor vision when driving due to the intermittent brightness of headlights and streetlights on the road.
How can I Prevent Night Blindness?
You can't prevent night blindness that's the result of birth defects or genetic conditions, such as Usher syndrome. You can, however, properly monitor your blood sugar level and eat a balanced diet to make night blindness less likely.
Orange colored foods are excellent sources of vitamin A, including:
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
What are the Treatment Options for Night Blindness?
The treatment will depend on its causes.
- Nutrient deficiency (Vitamin A and Zinc) is the easiest to treat.
- If the cause is cataract, you can go for cataract surgery to remove the clouded lens and replace it with artificial intraocular lens. Vision is usually dramatically improved after surgery.
- For dry eye syndrome, lubricate your eyes with artificial tear drops as they provide instant relief. Just make sure that they are without preservatives.
- Diabetic retinopathy can be prevented with tight control over blood sugar, active lifestyle and good dietary habits.
- As for retinitis pigmentosa, unfortunately there are no treatments available. Thankfully, new research is showing that vitamin A might have a slowing effect on the progression of this eye disease. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
Cataract can be defined as the clouding of the natural lenses in the eyes. This is caused by the clumping of protein in the eye lens. Cataract is a common eye disorder and the leading cause of loss of vision in people who are past their fortieth birthday. Cataract can occur in one or both eyes. When diagnosed properly, cataract can be treated with surgery to prevent blindness.
Depending on where and how they develop, there are many types of cataract. The most common amongst these are:
- Subcapsular cataract: These occur at the back of the eye lens. Diabetic patients are very susceptible to this kind of cataract.
- Nuclear cataract: Yellowish-brown cataract that form in the center of the lens are called nuclear cataract. This is usually seen in cataract caused by ageing.
- Cortical cataract: Cataract in the lens cortex are known as cortical cataract. These are wedge shaped and whitish in color. Spokes protruding out of these opaque wedges can be seen moving towards the center of the eye.
- Congenital cataract: Though they are not common, babies can also have cataract. Cataract formed at birth or within the first year of a baby's birth are known as congenital cataract.
- Secondary cataract: Cataract is one of the known side effects of diabetes and glaucoma. Some steroids and medicines are also linked to cataract.
- Traumatic cataract: If your vision becomes cloudy years after an eye injury, it could be a traumatic cataract. It can take several years for this to happen.
- Radiation cataract: Exposure to radiation can also lead to cataract. This is seen sometimes in patients who have undergone radiation therapy to fight diseases like cancer.
Though the type of cataract might differ from person to person, the symptoms are usually the same. Some of the common symptoms of cataract are:
- Blurred vision
- Reduced night vision
- Increased sensitivity to light and glare
- Seeing halos around lights
- Colors appearing faded
- Double vision
- Frequent change in (glass power) refraction
A reading test is the first step towards diagnosing cataracts. This is followed by tests to measure the eye pressure. Your doctor will also need to dilate the pupil to check the condition of the optic nerves and retina.
Surgery is the safest way to remove a cataract. Surgery is usually recommended when cataract begin inhibiting your daily life such as preventing you from driving, interfering with reading etc.
In most cases, this can be done as an outpatient procedure. The earlier it is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. Hence, if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, get your eyes checked at once. The surgery is a day-care surgery only, so a person can go home the same day. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Ophthalmologist.