What is the treatment?
Retinitis pigmentosa is also known as RP.
How is the treatment done?
It is an eye disease where the back wall of the eye is damaged. It is a disease caused due to genetic disorders due to which there is a loss of cells in the retina (they are light sensitive tissues). Symptoms of this disease include trouble seeing in the night and a decrease in the peripheral vision i.e. side vision. This condition changes how the retina responds to light, making it hard to see. Normally people with this disease will slowly lose their vision but not completely. The speed of vision loss depends from person to person. As of now there is no particular treatment for PR, but scientists are still studying why it is passed on to the next generation and looking for a permanent cure for this disease. There are supplements that will prevent the eye from full damage. These supplements include vitamin A supplements. Sometimes patients might develop swelling in the retina and develop cataract. Surgery for the same will help RP to an extent. Artificial retina called the ARGUS II can also be implanted and help some patients prevent severe vision loss. Sometimes glasses that use prisms can also be used for peripheral vision but it won’t restore the normal vision. These glasses have proved to be effective on people suffering from PR.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
There is no particular treatment for PR. Supplements such as vitamin A are used to reduce the vision loss and the use of glasses also prove to be effective. Mostly its important for the doctor to check the intensity of PR in a person in order to give the correct number of supplements. Intake of vitamin A slows down the vision loss and its effect increases when it is combined with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a healthy fat abundant in Coldwater fish, such as tuna and salmon, and the antioxidant lutein. Since the intensity of vision loss differs from person to person, patients should take the exact supplement given by the doctor not any other vitamin A supplement, because overdose has not shown any positive effect. Eating fish also helps in slowing down the process of vision loss but if someone is allergic to it, they can always take 200mg DHA gel cap per day. Adults following this regimen should limit their alcohol intake to no more than two alcoholic beverages per day.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
The loss of vision starts gradually and not all at once. A person needs to consult a doctor once he/she starts finding out that his/her vision is getting blurry and has a difficulty in seeing. RP starts with a loss of vision of in the night and then to gradual loss of vision. The speed of loss of vision varies considerably from person to person, even between members of the same family. People in the age group of 18-60 years can take this medicine.
Are there any side effects?
Laboratory research suggests that the treatment regimen may be harmful to people with stargate disease, conerod dystrophy and any retinal disease caused by mutations in the gene ABca4. Also, people with abnormal liver function profile should also avoid these supplements. As said earlier people who consume alcohol shouldn’t take this regimen. If they need to consume the regimen they need to reduce their alcohol consumption and people who smoke shouldn’t consume this regimen (lutein) as it would increase the risk of lung cancer. Women who are pregnant and are planning to get pregnant shouldn’t take this regimen because it might affect the baby. People who are above the age 49 should get their bone density checked before taking he supplements weak bones can cause hip fracture. People who have had renal transplants shouldn’t take these supplements as the newly transplanted kidneys may absorb a lot of vitamin A making it toxic.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
There are not many side effects to the RP treatment because there is no treatment for this disease and people suffering from it are given supplements which don’t have any side effects. The regimen will only affect the people if it is taken in over dosage or any other dose not prescribed by the doctor.
How long does it take to recover?
Patients are generally asked to avoid alcohol and smoking.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
There is no permanent recovery from this disease, it only slows down the loss of vision process, so there is no recovery. But once you start taking the supplements you can see a difference within a months’ time.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
The treatment price in total costs from Rs 9000-12000 which includes the examination fee i.e. to find the intensity of the vision loss, which would be ranging from Rs 2000-4000. Glasses with prisms can cost around Rs 4000-5000 and the tablets would cost around Rs 3000.
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
The treatment would help in the slowdown of the vision loss process and cannot restore the vision. Hence, it is not permanent.
Rs 9000 - Rs 12,000