Retinitis pigmentosa: Genetic Eye Disease

This page authored by Eric Ribbens, Western Illinois University.
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This material was originally created for Starting Point: Teaching Economics
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.


This case was written for a large lecture section that uses powerpoint and personal response systems (clickers) to teach. Students experience a demonstration of the neurological connections to the eye, and examine data showing progressive vision loss in a patient. The vision loss is due to a recessive genetic disease. The implications of that disease are considered. The case uses a powerpoint presentation with embedded clicker questions.

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Learning Goals

- To introduce an example of a vision problem and see the effect of genetic disease
- To introduce students to calculating implications of genetic diseases for family members
- To explore the optical nervous system
- To encourage students to humanize patients. Neil is not just presenting a visual field defect, he is a complex person who has responded in some unique ways to his problem, as do all patients

Context for Use

- This case is designed for large introductory biology classes that use clickers (personal response systems) to manage and collect student input. Therefore, the case has clicker questions, marked CQ2 (or whatever number it is), with the correct answer highlighted in bold. Before the powerpoint is used for teaching the case, it is expected that the professor will remove the bolding and format the clicker question for use with the specific hardware / software system that is being used in the course.

Description and Teaching Materials

Files: a powerpoint for the case, and a Word file for the demonstration.
Retinitis pigmentosa Powerpoint presentation (PowerPoint 959kB Apr2 09)
Neuron demo handout (Acrobat (PDF) 186kB Apr2 09)
Neuron demo instructions (Text File 2kB Apr2 09)
Teaching notes (Microsoft Word 71kB Apr2 09)
Assessment questions (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 81kB Apr2 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips

see the teaching notes attached above


see the assessment questions powerpoint

References and Resources

see the teaching notes