Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is the name given to a group of inherited eye diseases that affect the retina (the light-sensitive part of the eye). RP causes the breakdown of photoreceptor cells (cells in the retina that detect light). Photoreceptor cells capture and process light helping us to see. As these cells breakdown and die, patients experience progressive vision loss. The most common feature of all forms of RP is a gradual breakdown of rods (retinal cells that detect dim light) and cones (retinal cells that detect light and color). Most forms of RP first cause the breakdown of rod cells. These forms of RP, sometimes called rod-cone dystrophy, usually begin with night blindness. Night blindness is somewhat like the experience normally sighted individuals encounter when entering a dark movie theatre on a bright, sunny day. However, patients with RP cannot adjust well to dark and dimly lit environments.
Vision loss associated with inherited genetic disease or aging is predicted to affect as many as 16 million people in the world.
New insight on how people with retinal degenerative disease can maintain their night vision for a relatively long period of time has been published today in the open-access eLife journal.
Retinitis pigmentosa is the most prevalent form of congenital blindness. Using a retinitis pigmentosa mouse model, researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have now shown that targeted activation of genes of similar function can compensate for the primary defect.
A study performed on canines at the University of Helsinki characterizes a gene variant in the regulatory region of the retina that causes abnormal functioning of retinal genes and, ultimately, leads to loss of vision in dogs.