Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina (the light sensitive tissue that lines that back of the eye). Early symptoms include difficulty seeing at night and a loss of peripheral vision. Late symptoms include vision loss and blindness.
People afflicted with this disorder often have difficulty getting around in the dark. It can also take abnormally long periods of time to adjust to changes in lighting. As their visual field becomes restricted, patients often trip over things and appear clumsy. People with retinitis pigmentosa often find bright lights uncomfortable, a condition known as photophobia. Because there are many gene mutations that cause the disorder, its progression can differ greatly from person to person. Some people retain central vision and a restricted visual field into their 50s, while others experience significant vision loss in early adulthood. Eventually, most individuals with retinitis pigmentosa will lose most of their sight.