Retina South Africa
The conditions represented by Retina South Africa include: Retinitis Pigmentosa, Macular Degeneration, Usher Syndrome and some 200+ other rare conditions. These retinal conditions all cause vision loss and sadly partial or total BLINDNESS. They can occur in very young children causing a lifetime of blindness or rob the elderly of their precious independence.
Researchers estimate that as many as 1 in 2000 in the population may be affected while 29,7 % of the aged are at risk for Age Related Macular Degeneration. Retinitis Pigmentosa starts in young children with loss of night vision and progressed to loss of side vision in their late teens or early twenties. The rate of loss is variable but tunnel vision and functional blindness is the end result. Macular Degeneration occurs in 2 forms, one that affects young children or the age related form that occurs in later life. Both forms affect central vision causing loss of the ability to read and recognise faces.
Usher Syndrome is Retinitis Pigmentosa accompanied by severe or profound hearing loss making verbal communication almost impossible. These conditions are generally inherited and occur most often in families with no previous history of blindness. Retina South Africa offers supports education and counseling to affected people and their families.
Retina South Africa funds a gene tracking project at UCT to identify the genes causing retinal degeneration in South African families. This is a necessary prerequisite for any gene based therapies which will probably be available within 5 to 10 years. Retinal degenerations are very difficult diseases to describe because each case is so different. That is why the information presented in this web site is offered only as a general description.
If you suspect you have retinal degeneration or any other eye problem, it is best to consult with an ophthalmologist, a physician who specializes in the care of the eye. Only by knowing the full details of the patient's examination and family history can the nature and the progress of the condition be determined, and its full meaning explained.