Retinitis pigmentosa is a progressive genetic disorder of the eye that affects the retina's rods and cones, or retinal epithelium. Initially, individuals with retinitis pigmentosa are often affected by night vision problems. As the disease progresses, peripheral and central vision weakens. Retinitis pigmentosa affects both men and women; however, men are usually affected more severely than women.
Currently, there is no cure or treatment for retinitis pigmentosa. The majority of individuals with this condition lose vision over time, but most individuals do not become completely blind. However, there are a few individuals for whom the condition will render them totally blind. Peripheral vision usually erodes first, and then central vision.
When retinitis has severely affected peripheral vision, and sometimes central vision, it can be difficult to work many jobs. While the Social Security Administration doesn't award disability benefits on the basis of retinitis pigmentosa itself, the agency does grant disability benefits for those whose peripheral vision and/or central vision has eroded so much that they can't function at their job, and there are no other jobs they can be expected to do. For more information, see our article on disability benefits for peripheral and central vision loss.