Although some children with RP are born with extremely poor vision, often the first symptoms and effects of RP occur in the
teenage years and they can have good vision until this time. The rate of visual loss varies considerably, with some people
experiencing only a slight deterioration in sight over a number of years, whilst others have periods of rapid visual loss
in between spells of no apparent visual decline.
Often the first symptom which the young person with RP notices is difficulty seeing in poor light conditions, leading
to "night blindness" i.e.. inability to see at all in the dark. This has implications in "blacked out"
rooms. The condition can affect the peripheral area of the retina, resulting in progressive "tunnel vision : in other
cases central vision is lost first.
Some people with RP are ultra -sensitive to bright light and may have to wear tinted glasses, and/or keep out of bright
Visual acuity is often normal, even when the field of vision is so restricted that the child is registered as blind. If
the restricted central vision is still intact the person with RP may be able to read, or to see objects in the distance, but
be unable to see the immediate environment well enough to be able to cross the road safely. Ultimately, however, all vision
may be lost.
Retinitis Pigmentosa often becomes apparent during the secondary-school years and the young person faces the trauma and
confusion of still being able to see clearly in some situations, and not at all in others.