Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is the name given to a group of inherited eye diseases that affect the retina (the light-sensitive part of the eye). RP causes the breakdown of photoreceptor cells (cells in the retina that detect light). Photoreceptor cells capture and process light helping us to see. As these cells breakdown and die, patients experience progressive vision loss. The most common feature of all forms of RP is a gradual breakdown of rods (retinal cells that detect dim light) and cones (retinal cells that detect light and color). Most forms of RP first cause the breakdown of rod cells. These forms of RP, sometimes called rod-cone dystrophy, usually begin with night blindness. Night blindness is somewhat like the experience normally sighted individuals encounter when entering a dark movie theatre on a bright, sunny day. However, patients with RP cannot adjust well to dark and dimly lit environments.