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Retinitis Pigmentosa Essay

1068 words - 5 pages

Humans, have developed numerous diseases during our time here on Earth. In order to stay healthy doctors have had to establish treatments able to heal the sick, with modern equipment doctors are able to do just that. Machines are helpful to a certain extent only when the source of a disease is identified can a doctor possibly begin to examine it and eventually proceed towards a solution. While many cures have been developed many conditions still exist currently incurable like Retinitis Pigmentosa. The process for curing a disease can be long and difficult. In order to develop an antidote doctors must find the cause of a disease, conduct research and determine an approved course to take in order to cure it.
First labeled as Retinitis Pigmentosa by Doctor Donders in 1857, Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is a condition which causes the rods and cones in a patient’s eye to degenerate. Cones are responsible for allowing people to see during the day and in color. Rods allow people to see in low light environments. RP is most commonly inherited by one’s parents, of which both carry the recessive gene responsible for RP, although some isolated cases occur. The first signs of RP is impaired night vision often observed during childhood followed by the narrowing of peripheral vision. In mild cases tunnel vision doesn’t develop until the fifth or sixth decade (Willacy). Patients with RP are commonly diagnosed in their teens. In order to diagnose RP the patient must go through a series of examinations. The First is an initial assessment followed by a visual acuity test, a common test evaluates the sharpness of the retinal focus within the eye. Followed by a visual field assessment to test a patient’s peripheral vision. Both these tests can be performed in a normal clinic. For a doctor to properly diagnose RP, more comprehensive tests should be conducted in hospital. “The most critical diagnostic test is the electroretinogram (similar to the EEG of the brain or the ECG of the Heart)” (Scott).
Once a patient has been diagnosed with RP, even though there is no cure they have few options to slow its development, such as, diets rich in vitamin A or docosahexaenoic acid. Vitamin A has the potential to reduce the progression of RP by two percent each year. Studies show although beneficial “this treatment must be weighed against the uncertain risk of long term adverse effects” (Scott). Decosahexaenoic acid contained in Omega-3 can slow RP. “Researchers estimated that the combination of vitamin A plus this diet could provide almost twenty additional years of useful vision for adults who start this regiment in their 30’s” (Weinstock). Although there is no cure for RP there must be something more a patient can do to preserve their eyesight.
Doctors are continuing to do research and some of the promising procedures they are currently working on are transplantation, retinal prosthesis and gene therapy. Tranplantation involves replacing patches of retinal...

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