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Retinitis Pigmentosa (pigmentosis) is a progressive degenerative disorder of the retina that can cause a profound loss of vision. Various hereditary patterns have been reported. This disease affects 1 out of 3700 people.
Since we consider most eye conditions to be a reflection of the health of the whole body, lifestyle choices and diet can play a major factor in cultivating and maintaining good vision. Below are some recommendations:
- Certain nutrients such as vitamin A, lutein, omega-3 fatty acids, other antioxidants, and COQ10 may help slow down retinitis pigmentosa and help to preserve vision, and, in some cases, even improve vision.
- Some research indicates that daily use of microcurrent stimulation may help preserve vision as well.
- Product review for RP
- See all retinal support vitamins and supplements
The typical symptoms include decreased night vision and peripheral vision, usually starting in the first or second decade of life. Marked loss of vision occurs over many years but may develop slowly. The diagnosis is made by a thorough eye examination and a special test called an electroretinogram, or "ERG".
Retinitis pigmentosa often runs in families. The disorder can be caused by a number of genetic defects.
Many genes can mutate and result in the characteristic retinitis pigmentosa. One mutation is of the gene controlling rhodopsin, a pigment with a critical role in the vision process, that allows vision to work in low-light conditions. Since this discovery, in 1989, 100 other mutations have been found, that account for variations of retinal deterioration. Most of those mutations are dominantly inherited - that is, the mutated gene must come from both parents.
Although considered incurable, the progression of this condition can be reduced by the daily intake of 15000 IU (equivalent to 4.5 mg) of vitamin A palmitate.13 Recent studies have demonstrated that proper vitamin A supplementation can postpone blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa by up to 10 years. Other studies have shown supplementing with nutrients such omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, lutein, vitamins E, C and alpha lipoic acid can help preserve vision.
Future treatments may involve gene therapy, artificial retinal implants, retinal transplants, stem cells, nutritional supplements, and/or drug therapies. A 2012 animal study replaced photoreceptor cells where no host cells remained with transplanted rod precursor cells that reformed an anatomically distinct photoreceptor layer.14
13. Vitamin A (2004), DHA, Omega-3 Fatty Acid and Retinitis Pigmentosa,
Vitamins A / E (1993) & Retinitis Pigmentosa
14. Reversal of end-stage retinal degeneration and restoration of visual function by photoreceptor transplantation, Singh, et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jan 3, Epub.