The degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa (R.P.) affects one in 3,000 people. The disease is caused by a gene mutation that damages rod photoreceptors, or light-sensing cells, in the eye. The symptoms of the disease may first appear in childhood, but the decreased loss of vision that occurs throughout the lives of those afflicted often leads to diminished night vision or tunnel vision.
A good analysis to explain the effects of RP is that of a television or computer screen. The pixels of light that form the image on the screen that we refer to as resolution, like 1080p resolution, can be compared to the millions of light receptors on the retina of the eye. The fewer pixels on a screen, the less distinct will be the images it will display, the difference between your old tube TV in the basement and that new flat screen. As a person’s RP gets worse and worse, fewer than 10 percent of the light receptors in the eye receive light, leaving sufferers to view the world in a limited way.
While there is no cure for retinitis pigmentosa yet, researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University and SUNY Cortland have collaborated to gather new information that may help accelerate research on new treatments. Continue reading