Retinitis pigmentosa is inherited. It is not caused by injuries or infections. Environmental and other external factors do not have an effect on whether an individual will have RP, either.
Inherited means hereditary, people who have RP were born with a defective gene which changed the body’s normal cell structuring. RP can be diagnosed from a young age.
Retinitis pigmentosa may also be the result of a gene mutation communicating with retinal cells. But most of the time the condition is due to a recessive gene. A recessive gene is one that has been inherited from both parents.
Dominant genes and X chromosome genes have also shown links to RP. If this is the case, it means that the gene has originated in one parent only.
The inheritance patterns for retinitis pigmentosa are named as follows:
- Autosomal dominant
- Autosomal recessive
In even rarer cases, a genetic mutation means that the disorder can appear in someone with no family history of RP.
Retinitis pigmentosa has also been shown (in very small numbers) to be linked to other disorders and diseases. These include Bassen-Kornzweig disease and Kearns-Sayre syndrome.
Because the condition is genetic, there are no real external risk factors that may contribute to the chances of getting retinitis pigmentosa. As such, there are no ways to prevent the disease.
If, however, you do have RP, you can reduce the chances of the condition progressing by avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun. There has been some recent research done which seems to indicate that some types of RP may be accelerated by over exposure to light.
Some women who have retinitis pigmentosa have reported a worsening of their condition while they were pregnant. But as of yet, there are no clinical studies which examine this link.