Proteins PRPF31, PRPF3 and PRPF8 (RP-PRPFs) are ubiquitously expressed components of the spliceosome, a macromolecular complex that processes nearly all pre-mRNAs. Although these spliceosomal proteins are conserved in eukaryotes and are essential for survival, heterozygous mutations in human RP-PRPF genes lead to retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary disease restricted to the eye. Using cells from patients with 10 different mutations, we show that all clinically relevant RP-PRPF defects affect the stoichiometry of spliceosomal small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs), the protein composition of tri-small nuclear ribonucleoproteins and the kinetics of spliceosome assembly. These mutations cause inefficient splicing in vitro and affect constitutive splicing ex-vivo by impairing the removal of at least 9% of endogenously expressed introns. Alternative splicing choices are also affected when RP-PRPF defects are present. Furthermore, we show that the steady-state levels of snRNAs and processed pre-mRNAs are highest in the retina, indicating a particularly elevated splicing activity. Our results suggest a role for PRPFs defects in the etiology of PRPF-linked retinitis pigmentosa, which appears to be a truly systemic splicing disease. Although these mutations cause widespread and important splicing defects, they are likely tolerated by the majority of human tissues but are critical for retinal cell survival.