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November 1940


Author Affiliations

Resident Surgeon, Division of Ophthalmology, Henry Ford Hospital; DETROIT
From the Division of Ophthalmology, Henry Ford Hospital.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1940;24(5):984-989. doi:10.1001/archopht.1940.00870050134012

The etiology of retinitis pigmentosa has engaged the interest of ophthalmologists almost from the day Helmholtz' ophthalmoscope became available in 1852. The entity was first described by Donders, of Utrecht, and the first anatomic investigation was done by Maes in 1861. Landolt1 followed with a report in 1872, and soon there arose two schools of thought, divided on the fundamental question of whether the neuroepithelial degeneration was primary or secondary to choroidal sclerosis.

As time advanced, other factors have been brought forward as etiologic. These include glandular deficiencies, trauma of light, avitaminosis and toxicity. Of these, the theory of toxicity alone has with-stood critical analysis. The strength of this theory has been considerably enhanced by experimental work showing that various substances injected subcutaneously at some distance from the eye, and also in the eye, will act selectively on retinal epithelium and produce pigmentary degeneration.

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