By Aleksandra Rachitskaya, MD, as told to Hallie Levine

It can be devastating to be diagnosed with an inherited retinal dystrophy (IRD). These rare, inherited eye diseases cause progressive vision loss, and sometimes even blindness. Here at the Cleveland Clinic, we’ve seen more patients than ever before with IRDs. Our numbers have risen from 327 patients in 2015, to almost 800 in 2019. The reason? We’ve become much better at both diagnosis and treatment.

Over the last 2 decades, we’ve learned that there are around 300 genes associated with IRDs. Thanks to advances in genetic testing technology, we’re able to diagnose the…


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