Since the identification in 1989 of the first gene associated with an inherited retinal disease (IRD) – that gene was RHO, which when mutated, is a frequent cause of retinitis pigmentosa (RP) – genetic researchers, many funded by the Foundation, have identified approximately 270 genes linked to IRDs. In most cases, defects in a single gene can cause a retinal disease and vision loss.
The cumulative breakthroughs in IRD gene discovery over the past three decades are indeed impressive. It means that, today, about 65-70 percent of IRD patients will have their mutated gene identified when getting tested. However, it also means that the gene mutations for about one-third of patients are still not identified.