What are the main Retinitis Pigmentosa symptoms?
Retinitis Pigmentosa manifests itself by a gradual deterioration of vision. Typical symptoms include night blindness and peripheral visual field loss.
These are the Retinitis Pigmentosa symptoms at a glance:
The following is a brief description of the most important retinitis pigmentosa symptoms.
Night blindness (nyctalopia)
Night blindness (nyctalopia) is a characteristic feature of retinitis pigmentosa in which those affected have difficulty seeing adequately in low light conditions, particularly in the dark or in dimly lit environments.
This results from the progressive loss of light-sensitive photoreceptors in the retina, particularly the rod cells responsible for seeing in low light.
This impairment of night vision can lead to unsteadiness when moving in dark environments and can significantly impair vision in low light.
Limited peripheral vision, tunnel vision or keyhole vision
A narrowed peripheral field of vision is a common sign of retinitis pigmentosa, where the ability to perceive objects and movement at the edge of the field of vision decreases. This results in the peripheral area of the environment being perceived less clearly, which can be experienced as “tunnel vision”.
The gradual degeneration of the light-sensitive cells in the retina, especially the rod cells, is responsible for these changes. As the disease progresses, the peripheral field of vision may narrow further, leaving sufferers with limited lateral vision and focusing on central vision.
“Tunnel vision” is a distinct form of reduced peripheral vision in which the field of vision is severely narrowed, leaving only the central field of vision intact.
This phenomenon results from the gradual loss of retinal cells, particularly the rod and cone cells responsible for peripheral vision.
The progressive degeneration causes the field of vision to appear like a tunnel, severely limiting the perception of objects and movement in the lateral environment.
Tunnel vision can interfere with everyday functioning and lead to difficulties in navigating a spatial environment.
Adaptation problems to light changes
The retinitis pigmentosa symptom “difficulty adapting to light changes” is characteristic of retinitis pigmentosa. Affected people have difficulty adapting quickly to changing light conditions, resulting in discomfort and reduced vision.
This results from progressive impairment of the retinal cells responsible for regulating pupil width and adapting to different levels of illumination.
These problems can have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life, making outdoor activities or changing light environments difficult and leading to uncertainty and visual discomfort.
Decreased visual acuity
Decreased visual acuity – a characteristic feature of retinitis pigmentosa – describes a progressive decrease in the ability to visually perceive clear details and fine structures.
This deterioration results from the impairment of the retinal structures and the functioning of the retina. As a consequence of this visual impairment, patients may have difficulty seeing objects, faces or text clearly, which can affect their ability to absorb and process information.
This can have a significant impact on their ability to perform everyday activities that require accurate visual detection, such as reading, making fine hand movements or recognising facial expressions.
Impaired colour recognition
A prominent symptom of retinitis pigmentosa is impaired colour recognition. Affected people may have difficulty correctly distinguishing and naming colours.
This results from the degeneration of the retinal structures responsible for receiving and processing colour information. As a result of this visual impairment, patients may have difficulty recognising and interpreting colour nuances in their environment in everyday life, making it difficult to identify objects, recognise signals or distinguish elements in their environment.
This can lead to uncertainty and confusion, as the reduced ability to recognise colour can make it difficult to interact with the environment and understand visual information.
Lightning-like phenomena (photopsies)
Photopsia is a characteristic symptom of retinitis pigmentosa in which sufferers perceive light flash-like phenomena. These visual phenomena, perceived as bright flashes of light or glittering spots in the eyes.
They can also occur in the absence of external light sources. Photopsias result from changes in the retinal structures and are often due to mal-stimulation of the light-sensitive cells.
The consequences of photopsia can be manifold and affect the patient’s visual perception and quality of life.
First steps to be taken when symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa arise
At the first sign of symptoms of retinitis pigmentosa, it is strongly recommended to consult an ophthalmologist. Early diagnosis allows appropriate measures to be taken to slow down the progression and preserve vision.