Objective: This study was carried out to evaluate the progression of visual function impairment in carriers of X-linked recessive retinitis pigmentosa. We also assessed the relationship between the retinal findings at presentation and the extent of deterioration.
Design: Observational, retrospective, case series.
Participants: Twenty-seven carriers of X-linked recessive retinitis pigmentosa.
Methods: Each carrier was clinically categorized into one of four grades (grades 0 through 3) depending on the presence or absence of a tapetal-like retinal reflex and the extent of peripheral pigmentary degeneration. A complete ophthalmologic examination was performed and data for visual acuity, visual field area, and electroretinographic measurements were collected on the most recent visit in both eyes. These were then compared with similar data obtained on their initial visits.
Main outcome measures: A comparison of visual function was carried out between the initial visit and the most recent visit on each carrier. The visual acuity was measured with Snellen's acuity charts. The visual fields to targets V-4-e and II-4-e were planimeterized and used for the analysis. The electroretinographic (ERG) measures used were light-adapted single-flash b-wave amplitudes and 30-Hz red flicker for cone function, dark-adapted maximal b-wave amplitudes, and response to a low intensity blue-flash for rod function.
Results: None of the 11 carriers with a tapetal-like reflex only (grade 1) showed any significant change in visual acuity or fields as compared with 3 of 7 (43%) carriers with diffuse peripheral pigmentary findings (grade 3) who showed significant deterioration in visual acuity in at least one eye, and 6 of 7 (86%) who showed a significant decrease in visual field area with at least one target size in at least one eye. By comparison, only 1 of 10 carriers with a grade 1 fundus finding demonstrated a significant decrease in maximal dark-adapted ERG function as compared with 5 of 6 (83%) carriers with grade 3 in response to a single-flash stimulus and with 4 of 5 (80%) carriers in response to a single-flash blue stimulus. For the single-flash photopic response, none of the 10 carriers with grade 1 showed any significant deterioration, whereas 2 of 4 (50%) with grade 3 did show such deterioration. The ERG responses for carriers with grade 2 were in between the extent of decrease in ERG amplitudes of those in carriers with grades 1 and 3.
Conclusions: In our cohort of X-linked retinitis pigmentosa carriers, those with only a tapetal-like retinal reflex at presentation had a better prognosis to retain visual function than those with peripheral retinal pigmentation. These data are useful in counseling such carriers as to their visual prognosis.