Retina And Vitreous
Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)
CMV retinitis is a serious eye
infection of the retina, the light-sensing nerve layer
that lines the Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) describes a
group of related diseases that tend to run in families
and cause a slow but progressive loss of vision. RP
affects the rods and cones of the retina, the
light-sensitive nerve layer at the back of the eye, and
results in a decline in vision in both eyes. RP usually
affects both eyes equally with severity ranging from no
visual problems in some families to blindness at birth
in others. RP gets its name from the fact that one of
the symptoms is a clumping of the retinal pigment that
can be seen during an eye exam.
The earliest symptom of retinitis pigmentosa, usually
noticed in childhood, is night blindness or difficulty
with night vision. People with normal vision adjust to
the dark quickly, but people with night blindness adjust
very slowly or not at all. A loss of side vision, or
tunnel vision, is also common as RP progresses.
Unfortunately, the combination of night blindness and
the loss of peripheral vision can be severe and lead to
legal blindness in many people.
While there is a pattern of inheritance for RP, 40% of
RP patients have no known previous family history.
Learning more about RP in your family can help you and
your ophthalmologist predict how RP will affect you.
Usher's syndrome, in which a person is both deaf and
blind, can be associated with RP. The incidence of
Usher's syndrome is difficult to determine but surveys
of patients suggest up to 10% of RP patients are deaf.
The incidence of Usher's syndrome is three cases per
100,000. It is the most frequent cause of combined
deaf-blindness in adults.
Considerable research is being done to find the
hereditary cause of RP. As hereditary defects are
discovered it may be possible to develop treatments to
prevent progression of the disease. While developments
are on the horizon, particularly in the area of genetic
research, there is currently no cure for retinitis
Nutritional supplements may have an effect on RP. It has
been reported that Vitamin A can slow the progression of
RP. Large doses of Vitamin A are harmful to the body and
supplements of Vitamin E alone may make RP worse.
Vitamin E is not harmful if taken with Vitamin A or in
the presence of a normal diet. Your ophthalmologist can
advise you about the risks and benefits of Vitamin A and
how much you can safely take.
Despite visual impairment, people with RP can maintain
active and rewarding lives through the wide variety of
rehabilitative services that are available today. Until
there is a cure, periodic examinations by your
ophthalmologist will keep you informed of legitimate
scientific discoveries as they develop.
Retinoblastoma, a malignant tumor
that grows in the retina, the layer of light-sensing
cells in the back of the eye, can destroy a child's
vision and be fatal. Affecting children of all races,
boys and girls equally, retinoblastoma occurs in one or
both eyes, usually in the first year or two of life.
The most common sign is a change in the color of the
pupil, which can appear white in reflected light. This
phenomenon is referred to as a cat's eye reflex.
Sometimes the affected eye will cross or turn outward.
Retinoblastoma can be hereditary and is more likely to
develop in children with a family history of the
With early diagnosis, retinoblastoma treatment is
remarkably effective. More than 90% of children survive
and many eyes are saved with a combination of
medications, radiation therapy, and heat, freezing, or
laser treatments. In severe cases, the affected eye is
If a child has had retinoblastoma there is an increased
chance for a second cancer to develop. Children with
retinoblastoma should have regular examinations by an
ophthalmologist and a pediatric oncologist.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
damages premature babies' retinas, the layer of
light-sensitive cells lining the back of the eye. ROP
usually occurs in both eyes, though one may be more severely
The last 12 weeks of a full-term pregnancy are an especially
active time for the growth of the eye. When a baby is born
prematurely, blood vessels are not ready to supply blood to
the retina. At birth, abnormal new blood vessels form and
cause scarring or detachment of the retina. The condition is
especially common in very small babies. It is more likely to
occur at one or two pounds than at three pounds.
Despite improved medical care, the disease is becoming more
common because smaller and sicker infants are surviving.
Supplemental oxygen given to premature babies may be part of
the cause of ROP, but not the only factor, as once thought.
In severe cases, the retina may be extremely scarred and
detached. Many cases get better without treatment and only a
small number of children go blind. Freezing (cryotherapy) or
laser treatments can prevent progression of the disease.
Children with ROP are more likely to develop nearsightedness
and amblyopia (lazy eye). Glasses, patching, and eye muscle
surgery can help these associated problems. Follow-up exams
of severely affected children should continue periodically.