Retinitis pigmentosa is one of the most common forms of retinal degenerations in the United States. Retinitis pigmentosa, or RP, is a progressive condition with signs and symptoms that first appear when you’re a child. The symptoms begin with night blindness and a constricted visual field, with possible blindness typically developing in early adulthood.
The main risk factor for RP is a positive family history. For those affected, the retina, which lines the back of the eye, loses sensitivity because the light-responsive cells malfunction. This process is gradual, which is why vision deteriorates over time.
There are currently no approved treatment options that can restore vision or halt the progression of the disease. However, researchers are making tremendous strides and for the first time offering hope for the near future.
Several clinical trials are in progress to investigate new treatments for RP. One of the most exciting and promising advances in the field for fully blind sufferers is the development of a new microchip retinal implant that can restore partial vision to a somewhat functional level.
An exciting study just released has shown that subretinal electronic implants can allow patients blind from retinitis pigmentosa to localize and recognize objects again. People were even able to read letters and form words after decades of blindness. This is a major breakthrough as it provides proof that useful vision can be restored to a degree not previously shown.
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