Retinitis Pigmentosa

Below we explain what Retinitis Pigmentosa is, what the symptoms are and how the condition is diagnosed.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) comprises a group of inherited disorders which are characterised by progressive degeneration of the retina, the light sensitive membrane lining the inside of the eye. This causes gradual loss of vision, although how quickly this happens and how much sight is lost varies from person to person.

Some people with RP can become blind, but many keep some useful vision into old age. This is because there are a large number of varieties of RP and specialist assessment and advice is required from an Ophthalmologist to give an affected individual an accurate prognosis.


  • Progressive difficulty in seeing in dim light, night blindness
  • Gradual restriction of peripheral vision leading to tunnel vision
  • In some varieties, loss of central vision
The Beetham Tower as seen by somebody with Retinitis Pigmentosa
The Midland Hotel as seen by somebody with Retinitis Pigmentosa

The Midland Hotel and Beetham Tower as seen by someone who has Retinitis Pigmentosa


Diagnosis is made by examination of the back of the eyes by a specialist and may be confirmed by tests of the electrical activity of the retina. The tests are non-invasive and painless.


Though research is on-going, there is currently no treatment available to arrest RP or to slow its progress.

Further reading

Understanding Retinitis Pigmentosa, RNIB, May 2011

Further online information

Patient website
RP Fighting Blindnes

Explaining retinitis pigmentosa: a micro video

Explore our other pages on eye conditions

Cataracts | Charles Bonnet Syndrome | Chronic Glaucoma | Diabetic Retinopathy | Nystagmus | Macular degeneration | Hemianopia


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