Vitamin Therapy for Adults with Retinitis Pigmentosa
Adults with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) may benefit from taking vitamin A and the omega-3 fatty acid
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Patients who take vitamin A along with a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids
may have a slower rate of vision decline due to RP. Patients with RP should not take supplements that
contain vitamin E. Supplements with high doses (400 IU) of vitamin E can increase the rate of vision
decline. Normal amounts of vitamin E in the diet should not have any affect.
What is the treatment?
1. Vitamin A palmitate supplement (15,000 IU) every day (can be purchased online; see page 2)
2. Daily lutein supplement (12 mg) in non-smokers
3. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (≥ 0.20 g/day), which can be found in rich oily fish (salmon,
tuna, sardines), or a DHA supplement (600 mg twice daily)
4. Avoid supplements that contain vitamin E
Who can benefit from this?
This treatment may benefit adult patients who have RP that is not caused by a medical syndrome. This
therapy was not studied in children or in patients who have other forms of retinal dystrophies (e.g.,
Leber congenital amaurosis, choroideremia etc.). It was also not studied in patients who have RP due to
Bardet-Biedl syndrome, Usher syndrome, or other forms of syndromic RP.
Can this be harmful?
Patients who have a retinal dystrophy caused by changes in the ABCA4 gene (Stargardt disease) should
not take high doses of vitamin A. If this gene could be the cause of your retinal disorder, you should
have genetic testing with a genetic counselor or ophthalmic geneticist.
High doses of vitamin A can be harmful to the liver. Before starting any treatment, you should talk with
Patients should have both a fasting serum vitamin A test and a liver function test before starting this
treatment. Patients should repeat these tests once a year. This type of therapy is not for people who have
liver disease. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should not start this treatment.
Eating oily fish may raise cholesterol levels. Patients should talk to their doctor before starting this type
Known Sources of Vitamin A Palmitate
Phone: 718-433-4337 or 1-800-777-3737
Vitamin A Palmitate 15,000 IU – 250 Tabs = $6.76
Carlson Labs, Inc.
Vitamin A Palmitate 15,000 IU – 120 soft gels = $9.90
ξ Berson EL, Rosner B, Sandberg MA, et al. A Randomized Trial of Vitamin A and Vitamin E
Supplementation for Retinitis Pigmentosa. Archives of Ophthalmology. 1993; 111 (6): 761-772
ξ Berson EL, Rosner B, Sandberg MA, et al. Further Evaluation of Docosahexaenoic Acid in Patients with
Retinitis Pigmentosa Receiving Vitamin A Treatment. Archives of Ophthalmology. 2004; 122(9): 1306-
ξ Berson EL, Rosner B, Sandberg MA, et al. Clinical Trial of Lutein in Patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa
Receiving Vitamin A. Archives of Ophthalmology. 2010; 128(4): 403-411
ξ Berson EL, Rosner B, Sandberg MA, et al. ω-3 Intake and Visual Acuity in Patients with Retinitis
Pigmentosa Receiving Vitamin A. Archives of Ophthalmology. 2012; 130 (6) 707-711
ξ Hoffman DR, Locke KG, Wheaton DH, et al. A Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial of
Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation for X-linked Retinitis Pigmentosa. American Journal of
Ophthalmology. 2004; 137(4): 704-718
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have
any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not
medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health
needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If you
have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 5/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights
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