The earliest symptom of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is usually diminished ability to see well at night and in conditions of low lighting and darkness. This symptom is called nyctelopia. It is caused by death of the rod photoreceptors in the retina.
As RP progresses, nyctelopia is accompanied by reduced peripheral field of vision (side vision) at all lighting levels. The affected person will be less able to detect objects which are not directly in front of them. This may mean bumping into objects, misjudging gutters and steps, tripping and having falls. A reduced peripheral field of vision results, because the affected rod photoreceptors are concentrated more in the peripheral/outer parts of the retina, rather than in the centre.
Some people with RP also report unusual light flashes/sparks in their vision.
This is the advice from Retina Australia based on broadly available research. Every case of retinitis pigmentosa is individual and it is always recommended to seek the advice of your optometrist and / or ophthalmologist.
For further information, or to contact Retina Australia (Qld) go to the website at www.retinaqld.org.au or the national organisation at www.retinaaustralia.com.au
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