Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is the name given to a group of inherited eye diseases that affect the retina. Retinitis pigmentosa causes the degeneration of photoreceptor cells in the retina. Photoreceptor cells capture and process light helping us to see. As these cells degenerate and die, patients experience progressive vision loss.
There are types of photoreceptor cells: rod cells and cone cells.
Rod cells are concentrated along the outer perimeter of the retina. Rod cells help us to see images that come into our peripheral or side vision. They also help us to see in dark and dimly lit environments.
Cone cells are concentrated in the macula, the center of the retina, and allow us to see fine visual detail in the center of our vision. Cone cells also allow us to perceive color.
Together, rods and cones are the cells responsible for converting light into electrical impulses that are transmitted to the brain where “seeing” actually occurs.
One of the outstanding recent scientific accomplishments that has benefited people affected by hearing loss, is the cochlear implant.