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Retinitis pigmentosa: Treatment

Seema Garg, MD, PhD
Section Editor
Jonathan Trobe, MD
Deputy Editor
Janet L Wilterdink, MD


Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) comprises a complex group of inherited dystrophies characterized by progressive degeneration and dysfunction of the retina, primarily affecting photoreceptor and pigment epithelial function [1]. The clinical manifestations of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) include night blindness, loss of peripheral vision from progressive loss of photoreceptors, and variably loss of central vision due to cataracts and macular edema.

Although there is no cure for RP, treatments are available for managing some aspects of its clinical manifestations [2]. New treatments, involving gene therapy, transplantation, and implanted electrical devices, are in active development.

This topic will address currently available treatment options, as well as review therapeutic strategies that remain experimental. The clinical manifestations and diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa are discussed separately. (See "Retinitis pigmentosa: Clinical presentation and diagnosis".)


Vitamin and nutritional supplementation therapy, while currently available, is beneficial only for a limited group of patients with some forms of RP. Several new treatments are on the horizon to slow or possibly even reverse the retinal degeneration caused by photoreceptor loss. These treatments include gene therapy and retinal cell transplantation.

Vitamin and nutritional supplementation — A role for vitamin therapy in RP was originally suggested by an observational study in which patients with RP who were taking vitamins A and E appeared to have slower decline in electroretinography (ERG) measurements than those not taking vitamin supplements [3].


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: May 12, 2015.
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