What is Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Retinitis Pigmentosa is an eye disease that causes loss of vision by affecting the retina of the eyes. This disease primarily harms the functioning of the rod cells in the retina, which creates vision problems in the dim light or at night.
Later on, the problem starts in day vision also. It is a gradual process in which a person suffering from the disease will lose their eyesight slowly and may even lead to complete blindness.
The disease starts forming with the loss of functioning of the rod photoreceptor cells in the back of the eye which is followed by the loss of functioning of cone photoreceptor cells. Cone cells are responsible for identifying colour and details and when these cones get affected by the retinitis pigmentosa the person loses the central vision.
In the conventional treatment, there is no cure for retinitis pigmentosa though research is going on using the latest technology to find the treatment of this disease.
Causes of Retinitis Pigmentosa
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is primarily a genetic disease which generally runs in families. The severity of the disease and the type of retinitis pigmentosa varies in each person and the speed of vision loss and other negative effects caused by the disease depends on the type of retinitis pigmentosa.
It is one of the most common diseases caused by genetic abnormalities. There is no specific cause for RP. The consanguineous marriages of the parents has been reported as a causative factor for many genetic diseases including retinitis pigmentosa. The exact causes of the disease are not fully understood and there can be a large number of possibilities to cause the genetic abnormalities.
Signs and Symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa
There is a typical pattern of sign and symptoms and the diagnosis is generally done in the teen age. The progression of the disease and its speed varies in patients depending on the genetic pattern of retinitis pigmentosa. Some of the common signs and symptoms which can be seen in a person suffering from the retinitis pigmentosa are:
- Loss of Night Vision – Loss of night vision which is called night blindness is a medical condition in which a person takes a longer time to adjust to the darkness. People face difficulties in doing daily tasks at night and dawn, they face problems to see things clearly in dark rooms, movie theatres, etc.
- Tunnel Vision – A gradual loss of side vision is known as tunnel vision resulting in difficulties in performing daily tasks such as walking, driving, etc.
- Loss of Color Vision – People face difficulties in identifying different colors around them which makes everyday tasks very difficult in certain jobs.
- Loss of Central Vision – In this condition, people face problem in doing tasks which needs a close encounter with the eyes such as reading, writing, etc. This condition is achieved once the disease affects the cone cells in the central field of vision.
- Photophobia – Contact with bright light can be very irritating to some people with retinitis pigmentosa.
- Blurred Vision
- Photopsia – This is a condition where the patient sees flashes of light.
- Complete blindness may occur if the disease is not checked on time.
Is it Possible to Cure Retinitis Pigmentosa Permanently?
No, it is not possible to cure retinitis permanently with the help of any treatment. Since it is a progressive disease so treatments are done not to cure retinitis pigmentosa but to prevent the further degeneration of vision. Otherwise the progression of the disease may lead to complete blindness.
The treatment is done by the Ayurvedic principles and without any side-effects. Since no cure is possible for retinitis pigmentosa, hence all possible measures have to be done to prevent further vision loss and that is possible by natural Ayurveda and panchakarma treatments.
Retinitis Pigmentosa Treatment in Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda which is a popular science in India, retinitis pigmentosa is caused by the imbalance of all 3 doshas in the eye.
The imbalance in pitta reduces the vision, imbalanced Kapha blocks the channel and imbalance of Vata disturb the neurological control. Here the disturbance in the doshas is genetic in nature and not because of the disturbed food and lifestyle habits.
But this disturbance of the dosha vitiation can increase fastly if it gets the support of disturbed lifestyle. Hence the lifestyle and food habits have to be in a state of complete balance so as not to accelerate the disease.
Retinitis Pigmentosa Treatment in Ayurveda is done in 2 stages:
- Purification – Panchakarma therapies are done to detoxify the body at a cellular level. The ayurvedic RP treatment is decided by an ayurvedic eye specialist in the best ayurvedic eye hospital near to you. After the completion of the purification process, the next step of rejuvenation starts.
- Rejuvenation– Rasayana medicines are given for a longer duration to provide strength to the retina and optic nerves. It does include the use of oral medicines and ayurvedic eye drops for effective cure of retinitis pigmentosa. The major procedures selected for the effective control of retinitis pigmentosa naturally are as below:
- Shirodhara or Shirovasti
- Akshi Tharpana
- Anjana & Aschyotana
Both procedures are repeated at regular intervals. The duration can vary from once in 6 months or once in a year depending on the condition of the patient.
The Ayurvedic retinitis pigmentosa treatment, eye drops and oral medicines for retinitis pigmentosa are designed according to the Prakriti of patient and Vikriti of disease and in India, this dosha evaluation is done by an Ayurvedic eye specialist.
Retinitis Pigmentosa Conventional Treatment
There is no single proven way for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa or commonly called as RP, but researchers are working on numerous options to either stop the condition to spread further or slow down the process of vision loss.
Most of these options may have possible side effects and can be risky for the patient’s health. Some of the available options for Retinitis Pigmentosa treatment are as follows:
- Medications - Certain vitamins (especially vitamin A) are used in the treatment of RP based on the condition of the patient. They can not be taken for long durations as they may cause damage to liver and kidney if they are in excess quantity in the body.
- Eye drops - There is no eye drop for topical use to cure retinitis pigmentosa but some of the complications like macular
edemaand others, eye drops can be helpful in reducing the swelling of the retina but may cause further complications if used for a longer duration of time.
- Surgery - No surgeries are done to cure retinitis pigmentosa.
- Artificial Retina Implant - Some trials of an artificial retina called ARGUS II implant are going on in people with a severe condition of retinitis pigmentosa to evaluate the positive results. The pros and cons of the research have to be studied yet.
- Sunglasses - Sunglasses can be used to reduce the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays.
- Stem Cell Therapy and Gene Therapy - Healthy genes and stem cells are inserted in the body to improve the health of damaged retina cells to improve the eyesight This is also not a confirmed treatment modality to cure retinitis pigmentosa and the pros and cons of the therapy are yet to be studied.
Precautions and Lifestyle Changes
There are some precautions and lifestyle changes which can be helpful in reducing progression of the disease. Some of the common precautions and lifestyle changes are:
- Avoid contact with bright light
- Wear sunglasses while visiting outside in the daytime.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
- Take a healthy diet rich in vitamin A and C.
- Daily exercise and yoga for relaxation and stress management .
- Avoid using smartphones, laptops, television as they strain the eyes.
There are some home remedies available but should be used regularly. Some common home remedies are:
- Take juice of amla daily.
- Mix quantity of almond – 100g, black pepper – 10g, Ashwagandha powder – 100g, mulethi powder – 100g. Take 1 to 2 tsp twice daily with milk after food.
- Put 1 drop of pure honey in eyes in morning.