Retinitis is inflammation of the retina in the eye, which can permanently damage the retina and lead to blindness. The retina is the part of your eye that is also known as the "sensing tissue." Retinitis may be caused by a number of different infectious agents. Retinitis, also called Retinitis pigmentosa, has a prevalence of one in every 2,5007,000 people. This condition is one of the leading causes that leads to blindness in patients in the age range of 2060 years old.

Retinitis caused by CMV (fundus photograph)

Retinitis may be caused by several infectious agents, including toxoplasmosis,[1] cytomegalovirus and candida.[2] Cytomegalovirus retinitis is an important cause of blindness in AIDS patients,[2] and is the most common cause of vision loss in AIDS patients. Candida may spread to the retina from the bloodstream, which usually leads to the production of several abscesses in the retina.[2]


The first symptom of this disease is usually a slow loss of vision. Early signs of Retinitis include loss of night vision; making it harder to drive at night. Later signs of retinitis include loss of peripheral vision, leading to tunnel vision. In some cases, symptoms are experienced in only one of the eyes. Experiencing the vision of floaters, flashes, blurred vision and loss of side vision in just one of the eyes is an early indication of the onset of Retinitis.


Retinitis is a genotypic disease which entails severe phenotypic representation. Types of Retinitis are currently considered the most complex forms of retinal disease. Such complexity in disease and incurability results from its complex mechanism. Retinitis is controlled by a single gene which can be inherited via an autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, or X-linked gene. In many cases, individuals with Retinitis have parents and/or relatives who are unaffected by this disease.


Although there has been extensive research in the past decades on this disease, there is still no evidence based therapies for this condition. This condition is often diagnosed at an early age; usually as a teenager or young adult.

To make a specific diagnosis, intraocular fluid samples may be taken and sent for analysis. In some cases, blood or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are also tested. Imaging may be done to help make the diagnosis.


There are two types of retinitis: Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis. Both conditions result in the swelling and damage to the retinitis. However, the key difference in both these conditions is that Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic eye disease that you inherit from one or both of your parents. On the other hand, CMV retinitis develops from a viral infection in the retina. Although there is no cure for this disease, there are steps you can take to protect your eyes from worsening.


Supplements can slow the progression of the disease and alleviate symptoms temporarily. Research also shows that vitamin A, lutein, and omega-3 fatty acids also help alleviate symptoms.


It is extremely important to see an ophthalmologist regularly. Research indicates that supplements slow the disease and lessen the symptoms. Supplements such as Vitamin A, lutein, omega-3 fatty acid DHA have shown to help this disease. While supplements may help lessen the symptoms, retinitis itself is not curable. Additionally, devices such as low-vision magnifiers can be used to aid vision in patients suffering from despaired vision due to retinitis. Rehabilitation services may also aid the patient so that patients may use their vision in a more effective manner. Lastly, it is advisable to wear sunglasses even on gloomy days to protect your eyes from any ultraviolet light.

Recent research

Current research on Retinitis includes studying stem cells, medications, gene therapies, and transplants to help treat/cure this condition. A study including patients with Retinitis was conducted by using gene therapy. Results from this study indicated that patients experienced some restored vision. Such studies indicate that the future may allow treatment of Retinitis by inserting healthy genes in the retina to cure this disease.


  1. Goldman, Lee (2011). Goldman-Cecil Medicine (24th ed.). Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders. p. 2195. ISBN 1437727883.
  2. Kumar, Vinay (2007). "Retina and Vitreous, Other Retinal Degenerations, Retinitis". Robbins basic pathology (8th ed.). Philadelphia: Saunders/Elsevier. ISBN 978-1416029731.
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