If you break down the symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), one of the earliest and most telltale symptoms of retinitis pigmentosa is night blindness. As you would remember from your biology textbooks, night blindness is a deficiency disease of vitamin A. So, are vitamin A supplements used for treating retinitis pigmentosa? While it is not the only nutritional supplement, vitamin A supplements for retinitis pigmentosa are used to treat the symptoms. 

But to what degree are nutritional supplements helpful in treating retinitis pigmentosa? And what are some of the other nutritional supplements used to treat retinitis pigmentosa? Let’s discuss all these questions in detail, but first, let’s refresh your memory on nutritional supplements and how they help.



What Are Nutritional Supplements?

If you look at the definition, a nutritional supplement is an oral pill that contains the necessary amounts of any particular dietary ingredient, mineral, amino acids, or vitamins that your healthy body needs in a day. These pills can help you get the right amount of nutrition to keep your body healthy when you are not getting the required nutrition from your regular meals. Nutritional supplements come both as over-the-counter medicine and prescribed ones based on your requirements.

Over-the-counter nutritional supplements have a very small dose of each nutrient in them, and they can be consumed daily. You will generally find over-the-counter supplements also combine various nutrients to give you all the required nutrition in a day. They generally don’t have adverse side effects and are safe for people of all ages.

Prescribed supplements are stronger comparatively and are used for the treatment of certain conditions. Often the human body shows signs of disease and certain ailments due to nutritional deficiencies, and the prescribed supplements are used to treat these ailments. They need to be consumed as and when prescribed by the doctor. These supplements can have a combination of nutrients in them or just one. They are safe to consume when prescribed, although they might have some side effects, about which your doctor will inform you.

When it comes to the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa, prescribed nutritional supplements are used. Different nutrients like Vitamin A, Omega 3, Zinc, and Lutein are used to treat RP. But how do these supplements help relieve the symptoms of RP? Let’s find out.


How Can Nutritional Supplements Benefit People With Retinitis Pigmentosa?

While RP is a genetic condition, nutritional supplements can still help reduce the effects of the symptoms and retard the degeneration of your retinal cells. Studies have shown that consuming nutritional supplements like vitamin A and others can slow the progression of RP in patients. This can help you maintain your vision and stop the complete degeneration of your retinal cells, which can lead to total vision loss in the affected eye.

The supplements you consume provide the necessary nutrition in your body to promote healthy cell growth that can support the development of your eye muscles, nerves, and cells. The nutrients actively help your body fight the cause of your eye problems and improve the severity of your symptoms. Different nutrients work to improve different symptoms of RP. Doctors might recommend you take multiple supplements at once to help improve your symptoms if you have advanced symptoms. 

So, now that you know how nutritional supplements benefit people with RP, let’s review all the different nutritional supplements used to treat the symptoms and their types.


Nutritional Supplements Used To Treat Symptoms of RP

As mentioned previously, nutritional supplements like vitamins A and E, along with amino acids, zinc, and lutein, are some of the common dietary nutrients used to treat the symptoms of RP. When consumed in the right amounts, these nutrients can help improve your RP symptoms like night blindness and vision problems. Even though RP eye disease cure is yet to be discovered, nutritional therapy is one of the more effective treatments for RP available nowadays. So, let’s review the best eye vitamins for retinitis pigmentosa and how they can help your vision.

Vitamin A Supplements for Retinitis Pigmentosa

Vitamin A is one of the most commonly used nutritional supplements in treating RP. You can say it is the best supplement for retinitis pigmentosa for people of all ages, given it has verifiable results to prove its efficacy. Studies have shown that using Vitamin A supplements has helped reduce the rate of retinal degeneration in both adults and children. Especially for children, vitamin A supplements have positive effects in slowing the loss of cone functions in the retina. For adults, vitamin A helps maintain the photoreceptors in your retina for people with RP. Let’s study the types of Vitamin A supplements used to treat retinitis pigmentosa.

Types of Vitamin A Supplements

Vitamin A supplements come in one of three compositions. They either contain retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate, or beta-carotene. If you have advanced symptoms, doctors can prescribe supplements that combine beta-carotene and retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate. Retinyl acetate and palmitate are pre-formed Vitamin A, while beta-carotene is a pro-formed vitamin A.

These supplements are available as pills and can be ingested orally as and when prescribed. To make it easier for kids, vitamin A and other dietary supplements are often offered as gummies to make their consumption easier. Children are already at a higher risk of vitamin A deficiency, which makes these supplements ideal for keeping them healthy. For children with RP, these supplements can work towards stopping retinal degeneration from an early age, which can help them lead an everyday life with clear eyesight.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplements for Retinitis Pigmentosa

Omega-3, which is a nutrient commonly found in fish, is also great for visual ailments. For RP, people who had omega-3 and vitamin A could successfully slow down retinal degeneration allowing them to maintain their vision for longer. Not only that, the results of several studies pointed out that omega-3 helped patients maintain central vision and visual acuity for most of their life. This is an incredible benefit considering most people with RP lose their central vision completely as they age when they go without treatment. But how does omega-3 fatty acids improve your eye health? Let’s discuss.

The Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Eye Health

Omega-3 fatty acids found primarily in certain types of fish are great for your eye health. This compound is crucial in maintaining your eye health as high amounts of omega-3 in your body can keep your eyes sharp and reduce the chances of getting macular degeneration as you age, even if you have risk factors. Similarly, omega-3 also helps treat dry-eye syndrome, a condition where the tear ducts don’t produce enough tears to keep the eyes lubricated. 

Omega-3-rich diets help people relieve the pressure in the eyes, which could lead to conditions like glaucoma. Given Omega-3 generally comes from fish; many people can’t get its benefits due to their dietary restrictions. This makes omega-3 supplements very popular, so let’s take a look at the different types of omega-3 supplements.

Types of Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 supplements come in different types. Generally, you will find at least 4-5 types of omega-3 supplements ranging from fish oil, liver oil, cod oil, krill oil, and algal oil. The last one, algal oil, actually comes from algae and is a vegetarian alternative to omega-3. All these types of Omega-3 have similar benefits and can be greatly beneficial for your eye health. For patients of complex conditions like RP, Omega-3 supplements can help reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Zinc Supplements for Retinitis Pigmentosa

Zinc is a very important nutrient in protecting the retina. It helps transport Vitamin A from your liver to the retina, which can help retard the degradation of your retinal cells. Zinc also helps create a protective pigment called melanin in your eyes and protects your eye from various conditions that hamper your central vision. For people with RP, zinc supplements can help reduce the effects of the symptoms because they work directly on your retina and the choroid artery in your eye. Let’s discuss more about the benefits of Zinc for your eye health, especially for people with RP.

The Importance of Zinc for Eye Health

As previously mentioned, zinc is crucial to maintain your retinal health. It works directly on your retina and can be crucial in controlling the symptoms of RP. Zinc also helps maintain the cone functions in your retina for both children and adults. Night blindness, one of the primary symptoms of RP, is treatable with zinc, which also helps protect against any damage to the optic nerve. Zinc also helps develop melanin, which keeps your eyes protected. 

So, as you can see, zinc is really good for your eyes, and there are a few sources of zinc in your everyday diet, like seafood, nuts, mushroom, spinach, milk, and eggs. People with RP still might need to depend on zinc supplements to help maintain their eye health. Let’s discuss the different types of zinc supplements.

Types of Zinc Supplements

Zinc supplements are readily available as both prescription and over-the-counter supplements. Not only are they available readily, but there are also a variety of compositions in which the supplements are available. Zinc sulphate is the most readily available form of zinc supplement, and it is inexpensive as well. 

However, zinc sulphate is not readily absorbed in the body and can even cause stomach issues. To combat the upset stomach, you can use other forms of zinc supplements, such as zinc citrate, zinc glycerate, zinc acetate, and zinc monomethionine. Do note that all of these variations of zinc supplements can help maintain your eye health and help with the symptoms of RP. Let’s review the dosages and precautions you must take when taking zinc supplements.

Dosage Recommendations And Potential Side Effects

Nutritional supplements like zinc come with dosage guidelines specifically because it has certain side effects that can hamper your health temporarily. For the dosage zinc supplements don’t have a different dosage specifically for men and women, but you should make sure that all the zinc intake your body requires is not coming from the supplement. So, this means you must eat food items that have zinc in them to keep up against the side effects. 

The most common side effect of zinc on your body is giving you an upset stomach. So, there are two ways you can deal with this. First, you can have more zinc-rich food items so that you don’t have to depend on supplements too much. Or you can have them after meals, which will also lower the chances of getting an upset stomach.

Vitamin E Supplements for Retinitis Pigmentosa

Vitamin E supplements are a great way to help improve your RP symptoms. But please be advised that only having vitamin E supplements will actually work adversely for your RP symptoms. It is crucial that you combine vitamin E and vitamin A supplements to get the best positive results. Other than that, Vitamin E is good for your eyes and can protect you against conditions like age-related macular degeneration or cataracts when you consume enough of the vitamin. However, moderation is required to make sure you are not exhibiting any of the side effects like nausea or diarrhea. Let’s review how vitamin E supplements help your eyes, their various types, dosages, and side effects.

The Role of Vitamin E in Eye Health

As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is good at protecting your body from the damage of free radicals. It also protects your body from the harm of oxidation, which can cause eye conditions like cataracts over time. For RP, especially vitamin E can help with symptoms like blurred vision. There is not much data on the effects of vitamin E on eye health, as there are conflicting studies showing that vitamin E doesn’t really have many benefits for eye health, with other studies showing it does when combined with other vitamin supplements. So, more research is needed to find concrete proof of the effects of vitamin E on eye health.

Types of Vitamin E Supplements

Vitamin E supplements come in different types. While the base benefits remain the same, the change in the type of supplement can affect how it works in your body. For RP and eye health in general, vitamin E supplements in the form of alpha-tocopherol are most commonly used. However, that’s just one of the almost 10 types of vitamin E supplements available. Vitamin E supplements are generally categorised into two broad categories, namely tocopherols and tocotrienols.

Each of these broad categories has its own alpha, beta, delta, and gamma variation, making four types under each category. Then you have synthetic vitamin E and RRR-alpha-tocopherol, making the total ten types of vitamin E supplements.

Dosage Recommendations & Potential Side Effects

Even though having a bit more than the required amount can help with conditions like RP, there are potential side effects of vitamin E that you should know. Firstly, the recommended dosage for vitamin E in adults is around 1,500 IU per day. 

However, based on the severity of your condition, doctors can suggest you take more than that. In most cases, their recommended amount will focus more heavily on food sources of vitamin E rather than supplements. This will ensure you can have some control over the side effects of vitamin E, which include nausea, diarrhea, and headaches.

Vitamin E can also thin blood, which can cause hemorrhages in your body. so doctors will ask you about preexisting conditions before prescribing you a healthy dose of vitamin E supplements.


Other Nutritional Supplements for Retinitis Pigmentosa

Apart from the ones mentioned already, more nutritional supplements are used in treating RP symptoms. These supplements are very specific and not commonly found as over-the-counter medication. They are offered to patients to serve specific purposes, and they are great at helping patients with recent or long-term symptoms regardless of their age. 

You should know that these supplements are often not used individually to treat symptoms. They are used in conjunction with other supplements, and together they create a nutritional therapy treatment course for patients. Let’s review some common examples under this category and how they help patients with RP.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are some of the most popular nutritional supplements specifically for people with eye conditions. These supplements are high in antioxidants and do wonders to help people with difficult eye conditions like RP. Due to their property of being rich in antioxidants, they help remove the damage of free radicals from your body. They also are some of the only examples of dietary carotenoids, and they help strengthen the retina directly. This is great for people with RP as it helps strengthen the cone functions of the retina, which can help alleviate some of the symptoms of RP.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C supplements alone won’t help with RP, but when combined with other supplements, it helps slow down retinal disintegration and maintain visual acuity. Vitamin C is commonly found in various food sources, so unless your doctor prescribes it explicitly, you can try to eat more vitamin C-rich foods to get the necessary benefits. Vitamin C supplements also help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Another great benefit of vitamin C supplements is that they reduce intraocular pressure, improving the central vision of people with RP.

B-complex vitamins

There are a number of B-complex vitamins, but the most effective ones for maintaining your eye health are vitamins B6, B12, and B9. These vitamins have anti-inflammatory properties, which help relieve and reduce any inflammation in your eye. As a result, it reduces the risk of several eye conditions. For RP specifically, B-complex vitamins reduce intraocular pressure, which helps patients see better with a clearer field of vision. Generally, B-complex vitamins are combined with other supplements to create a complete treatment course.


Choosing and Using Nutritional Supplements for Retinitis Pigmentosa

When it comes to nutritional supplements for RP, it is best that patients don’t go out and choose the supplements themselves. This is mainly because of two reasons. Firstly, the over-the-counter supplements readily available will not have enough potency to treat symptoms of difficult genetic eye conditions like RP. Secondly, every supplement has side effects and should not be consumed without getting them approved by your doctor first.

If you want to use supplements for your RP symptoms, discuss them with your doctor, and they will prescribe nutritional supplements to you that are catered to your symptoms. They will also prescribe supplements based on your lifestyle, diet habits, and medical history to ensure there are no major side effects from the supplements they prescribe. This process will help you get the best treatment and relieve your symptoms much better than self-diagnosed over-the-counter nutritional supplements.


Factors To Consider When Choosing Nutritional Supplements

Choosing nutritional supplements can be difficult by yourself. However, there are certain guidelines that can get you to the right supplement for your requirement. Let’s review the guidelines you should follow.

Speak To Your Doctor

It may seem counterintuitive, but speaking to your doctor is the best thing you can do if you want nutritional supplements for RP. They can monitor your symptoms and prescribe supplements with a high chance of helping them effectively and quickly. They will also be able to help you get prescription supplements with more potency than over-the-counter supplements, which will help with your symptoms better.

Check the Labels

If you are going for over-the-counter supplements, check the label before you get them. You should read the risks and side effects listed on the packaging before you get the supplements. It will help you stay safe from any health hazard. Also, if the supplement has no precautions or side effects listed on it, you should probably not get it anyway.

Check For Approvals

Nutritional supplements can be very vague, and there is limited moderation as to what passes as a nutritional supplement. When trying to get supplements for serious conditions like RP, you should see if the supplement is medically approved. This will help make your purchase actually effective in helping with your symptoms. The wrong supplements can actually harm you because they will not slow down the rate of retinal degeneration, which can eventually deteriorate your vision beyond repair leading to total loss of central vision.


Proper Usage And Dosage Recommendations

Always check with your doctors for dosage recommendations, even if you are using over-the-counter supplements. Even though they seem harmless, supplements are chemicals that can disrupt the chemical balance of your body and have adverse side effects as well. Plus, if you have certain conditions, supplements can worsen them while improving the symptoms of a different condition. This is why you should definitely follow the guidelines your doctor suggests for supplements. There are a number of reasons for it.

  • Supplements can have side effects if not consumed as and when directed by your doctor.
  • Supplements can not have the intended effects if not consumed as and when directed by your doctor.
  • Supplements can not positively affect your symptoms if not consumed as and when directed by your doctor.

So, make sure you speak to your doctor regarding your supplements because they are some of the best ways to improve the symptoms of RP, when done under medical observation and moderation.


Potential Interactions With Medications

Nutritional supplements, as mentioned previously, can have different side effects. Similarly, it can interact with other medicines. For safety, you should always disclose the medicines you have to your doctor before you begin your nutritional therapy for RP. However, here are a few things that you can check yourself when getting nutritional supplements for RP to protect yourself against any potential interactions with medications.


Name of Nutritional Supplement Medications it can react with
Vitamin A supplements Large volume of vitamin A supplements can interact with hepatotoxic drugs and affect your liver health.
Vitamin E supplements Anticoagulants, anti-platelet drugs, chemotherapy, and antibiotics.
Omega-3 fatty acids supplements Can increase the effects of blood thinning medication. Also reacts with medicines like aspirin, warfarin, and Plavix.
Vitamin C supplements Chemotherapy, and phosphate binders.
Zinc supplements Thiazide diuretics. These medicines can lower the effectiveness of zinc supplements.
Lutein supplements Should not be taken in large amounts alongside vitamins A, C, and E.
B-complex vitamin supplements Generally safe although they can interact with other supplements when consumed in large doses.



Nutritional supplements are one of the best treatment options for RP available at the moment. It is non-intrusive and can help you improve your vision holistically. Not only can nutritional supplements slow down the degeneration of your retina, but it can also help you maintain a clear field of vision for as long as you live. The best part is that these supplements are equally effective for people of all ages, even in cases of advanced retinitis pigmentosa.

As amazing as they are in helping with your symptoms, you should always consult with your doctors before starting to take supplements. As mentioned in the article, it can affect your health adversely or just not work in improving your symptoms if you fail to do it. So, do remember to discuss supplements with your doctor before you take them, even if they are over-the-counter supplements.

While the symptoms of RP do generally improve over time with nutritional supplements, there is still a lot to be learnt in this field through medical studies. There is still conflicting evidence regarding the efficacy of certain supplements used in treating RP symptoms. So, with time and more research, doctors will be able to find solid proof and create a standardised treatment course for RP patients, helping them keep this genetic condition under control for as long as they live.