Does Retinitis Pigmentosa Run in Your Family?

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There are a variety of health problems you should be aware of if others in your family have them, and eye problems are no exception. If someone in your family has had vision loss, it is just one more reason to make sure you see your eye doctor frequently. Read on for more information about retinitis pigmentosa, a devastating condition that is handed down in families.

What Is Retinitis Pigmentosa?

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) involves the retina, the cells at the back of the eye. The retina passes nerve impulses to the optic nerve, and then these impulses are sent to the brain to process what we see. RP is caused by gene mutations that affect the proteins in the eye: it can lead to not enough proteins for the eye to function, or it can mean production of proteins that are toxic for cells in the eye.

RP is fairly rare, but if someone in your family has vision problems, it is something you should be aware of. RP symptoms can start in childhood: children may have problems seeing in the dark, loss of night vision, loss of peripheral vision, and eventually loss of color vision. Some people may lose their vision at a young age, while others might keep their central vision into their 50s, as cells in the retina begin to die and can no longer send impulses to the brain.

How Is RP Treated?

Researchers are working on a way to cure RP, including gene therapy and stem cell therapy, but there is no cure yet. There are medications and treatments to help slow down the process of vision loss and to help patients learn to live with it. A team of experts can help patients to find the right combination of treatments and therapies.

If vision problems run in your family, it is very important to see your eye doctor frequently – he or she will check for any signs of vision disorders. Don’t put it off any longer – contact Richens Eye Center, with offices in St. George, UT, and Mesquite, NV, for an eye exam. Call (435) 986-2020 for an appointment today!

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