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Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)


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Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), an optic nerve disorder, affects your retina’s ability to sense light. Located at the back of your eye, your retina contains millions of light-sensitive nerve endings that send image messages to your brain. A form of retinal degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa damages the retina over time, causing permanent vision loss.

Though RP generally runs in families, 50 percent of people with RP don’t have a family history of the disease. The condition usually starts in childhood or the teen years, but can occur at older ages.

There is no way to prevent the disease; however, protecting your retina by wearing UV sunglasses outdoors may help delay the start of symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of RP?
People with this disease experience:

  • Decreased night vision
  • Decreased central or side (peripheral) vision
  • Difficulty seeing detailed images
  • Glare

At Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami, our retinal specialists diagnose and manage common retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and retinal detachments and tears. They also treat uncommon disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa.


Our experienced physicians specialize in vision diagnosis, treatment, and care. The first step to achieve an accurate diagnosis is through a comprehensive eye exam. If necessary, your ophthalmologist will order additional tests or procedures to confirm your diagnosis.

Color Defectiveness Determination - Your ophthalmologist may decide to test your sight for color deficiency. Some of the tests involve recognition of multicolored dot patterns while other tests are performed by placing different color chips in the correct order.

Retinal Exam - Before this exam, your pupils are usually dilated. During the exam, your physician looks at your retina and the surrounding structures. In a direct exam, your physician uses an ophthalmoscope to shine a bright beam of light through your pupil to the back of your eye. In an indirect retinal exam, your physician looks inside your eye using a condensing lens and bright light. This allows your doctor to see the retinal structures in 3-D and with great detail.

Eye Ultrasound - This safe, painless test uses high-frequency sound waves to produce detailed images of your eye. Ultrasound also allows your doctor to examine the eye socket.

Electroretinogram - An electroretinography (ERG) test or electroretinogram, measures the electrical response of the light-sensitive cells in your eyes.


Currently, there is no cure or treatment to stop retinitis pigmentosa. Scientists at our Retinal Degeneration Center are studying several potential treatments. In the meantime, many people benefit from low vision aids and therapy provided by our eye care team.

Retinal Prosthesis System - Some patients with advanced RP gain partial sight from the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System. The surgically-implanted device delivers electrical stimulation to the retina to restore visual perception.

One in 3,000 people has retinitis pigmentosa.

Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?

The Nation’s Top Eye Care Provider. Recognized as one of the world’s most progressive centers for ophthalmic care, research, and education, Bascom Palmer is ranked #1 in the country for eye care by U.S. News & World Report.

Leading Doctors. We trained the first generation of vitreoretinal surgeons and pioneered the use of fluorescein angiography for diagnosing macular and retinal diseases. Our physician-researchers stay current with treatment and technology advances.

Compassionate Care. When you’re coping with potential vision loss, expert medical care is only the beginning. You need an eye care team that addresses your concerns and helps you navigate through diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care.

Revolutionizing Treatment through Research. Bascom Palmer Retinal Degeneration Center researchers study the genetic causes and treatment strategies for RP, including gene therapy and neurotrophic factors.

Fast, Accurate Diagnosis. If you have RP, you need an immediate and accurate diagnosis to slow the progression of vision loss. In addition to a thorough eye exam, our ophthalmologists use the electro retinal grid, the gold standard of retinal diagnostic devices.

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