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Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of inherited eye problems that often lead to vision loss. Irregular clumps of black pigment often happen in the retina of people with this disease.

There is no cure. Treatment is aimed at helping you function with vision loss. Low-vision aids can help. Natural therapies have been used to maintain vision. They should not be used in place of standard care.

Natural Therapies

May Be Effective

These supplements may be effective:

  • Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits.A5, A8
  • Lutein is a compound found in vegetables and egg yolks.A2, A5, A9
  • Vitamin A is found in foods. It is important for normal vision.A3, A5, A11
  • Vitamin E is found in many foods. It acts as an antioxidant helping to protect cells from damage.A11

May Not Be Effective

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in cold-water fish. It may not be effective.A1, A3, A6, A7, A10

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Electro-stimulation B1
  • Lycium barbarum A4

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.



Herbs and Supplements

A1. Hodge WG, Barnes D, et al. The evidence for efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids in preventing or slowing the progression of retinitis pigmentosa: a systematic review. Can J Ophthalmol. 2006;41(4):481-490.

A2. Berson EL, Rosner B, et al. Clinical trial of lutein in patients with retinitis pigmentosa receiving vitamin A. Arch Ophthalmol. 2010;128(4):403-411.

A3. Rayapudi S, Schwartz SG, et al. Vitamin A and fish oil for retinitis pigmentosa. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(12):CD008428.

A4. Chan HH, Lam HI, et al. Delay of cone degeneration in retinitis pigmentosa using a 12-month treatment with Lycium barbarum supplement. J Ethnopharmacol. 2019 May 23;236:336-344.

A5. Brito-García N, Del Pino-Sedeño T, et al. Effectiveness and safety of nutritional supplements in the treatment of hereditary retinal dystrophies: a systematic review. Eye (Lond). 2017 Feb;31(2):273-285.

A6. Hoffman DR, Hughbanks-Wheaton DK, et al. Docosahexaenoic Acid Slows Visual Field Progression in X-Linked Retinitis Pigmentosa: Ancillary Outcomes of the DHAX Trial. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015 Oct;56(11):6646-6653.

A7. Hoffman DR, Hughbanks-Wheaton DK, et al. Four-year placebo-controlled trial of docosahexaenoic acid in X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (DHAX trial): a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2014 Jul;132(7):866-873.

A8. Rotenstreich Y, Belkin M, et al. Treatment with 9-cis β-carotene-rich powder in patients with retinitis pigmentosa: a randomized crossover trial. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013 Aug;131(8):985-992.

A9. Bahrami H, Melia M, et al. Lutein supplementation in retinitis pigmentosa: PC-based vision assessment in a randomized double-masked placebo-controlled clinical trial [NCT00029289]. BMC Ophthalmol. 2006 Jun 7;6:23.

A10. Berson EL, Rosner B, et al. Clinical trial of docosahexaenoic acid in patients with retinitis pigmentosa receiving vitamin A treatment. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004 Sep;122(9):1297-1305.

A11. Berson EL, Rosner B, et al. A randomized trial of vitamin A and vitamin E supplementation for retinitis pigmentosa. Arch Ophthalmol. 1993 Jun;111(6):761-772.


B1. Bittner AK, Seger K, et al. Randomized controlled trial of electro-stimulation therapies to modulate retinal blood flow and visual function in retinitis pigmentosa. Acta Ophthalmol. 2018 May;96(3):e366-e376.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC