Inherited retinal diseases affect millions of people worldwide, causing loss of vision in adults and children alike. The many diseases within this group are caused by any of thousands of known genetic mistakes in more than 250 genes. These genetic mistakes, and therefore the diseases they cause, are inherited.
An individual may inherit a genetic mistake from a parent, and pass it down to their own children, completely unaware of this silent problem until a family member, be it adult or child, is diagnosed with a sight stealing disease. The roller coaster begins.
Based on current statistics, the most likely diagnosis would be:
It is thought that about one child in every 1,500 is born with an inherited retinal disease in Australia. It is important to recognise that it is no one's fault and that an inherited retinal disease can strike in a family with no known history of it. In fact, inherited retinal diseases result from an imperfection in a tiny gene that causes an incorrect protein to be supplied to the retina. Over time this causes photoreceptor cells to die and progressive loss of vision results.
Some rarer inherited retinal diseases affect other parts of the body. For example, Usher Syndrome affects hearing as well as sight.
More information is given in the links at the foot of this page.