Treating Retinitis Pigmentosa

Treating Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) currently has no cure, but there are treatments available that can address certain symptoms, and others that may help slow the progression of the disease, depending on its type and severity.

Since there are more than 100 genes that can contribute to the development of RP, there is no single treatment. Assessing your symptoms, and accurately identifying which gene is causing your particular case of RP, can help your ophthalmologist determine which treatments and/or support aids and services may be most useful to you.

Research is ongoing to develop therapies to treat the various forms of RP. Here are some of the disease management options available so far.

Low vision aids and supports

The simplest way to deal with low vision is to take advantage of low vision aids and services to optimize your sight. To help you maintain, and even increase, your independence, professionals called low-vision specialists can:

  • Evaluate your vision loss
  • Connect you with rehabilitation programs and useful devices
  • Suggest environmental adjustments to your home and work spaces
  • Help you find and apply for financial assistance. 

Genetic counselors and social workers are also important players on your care team.

Vitamins and other supplements

You can also speak with your healthcare provider about dietary supplements such as:

  • Fish oil,
  • Lutein (found in brightly colored foods like carrots, and in dark leafy greens), and
  • Vitamin A. 

Each of these has been reported to help slow vision loss, but taking too much—especially of vitamin A—can be dangerous. Too much vitamin A can potentially harm your liver and worsen other eye conditions. Speak with your doctor about the risks and benefits of vitamins and other supplements, and make informed decisions.

Medical treatments

Several medical treatments are available to help manage specific symptoms of RP.

  • Medicated eye drops or oral medications can reduce retinal swelling. 
  • For patients whose eye lens become clouded by protein deposits, cataract surgery is a common, safe, effective, and easily accessible procedure.
  • An artificial retina, called the ARGUS II implant is available for some people with severe RP-related vision loss.  
  • Gene therapy has been developed specifically for RP related to a defect in the RPE65 gene. The medication (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl) is administered as an injection during eye surgery. 

Development of gene therapies for other forms of RP, along with various other treatments, are underway.

Clinical trials

At the writing of this article, there are nearly 250 clinical trials worldwide that are focused on better understanding and treating retinitis pigmentosa. Of those, 54 trials are being conducted in the U.S., with 19 currently in progress and no longer recruiting participants, 1 trial not yet recruiting, and 34 trials spread across at least a dozen states in the process of actively recruiting and enrolling volunteers. 

Aldeyra Therapeutics’ trial to test the experimental treatment ADX-2191 is one of these. To find out if you are eligible, go to: