Understanding Cone Rod Dystrophy (CRD)

What is Cone Rod Dystrophy?

A reduction in your visual acuity and deterioration of how you perceive color and see out of the corners of your eyes are common symptoms that individuals experience when diagnosed with cone rod dystrophy (CRD). When you learn that you have this disease or that a member of your family is afflicted, it’s natural to want to learn as much as possible about CRD. Armed with more information, you can then get a better sense of how you can deal with cone rod dystrophy, in consultation with medical professionals.

Overview of Cone Rod Dystrophy

Cone rod dystrophy is the term given to a set of about 30 diseases that result in deteriorating rods and cones in the retina, as noted by the National Institutes of Health. Rods allow for peripheral vision and help you see in low light conditions, while the cones enable central vision and to see details and colors in your field of view.

Patients may have a stable form of CRD, which means it stays the same as it was when they were born or when they first contracted the disease. Or, they might have progressive cone rod dystrophy, which as its name suggests, will get worse as you age. Progressive cone rod dystrophy can occur at any age.

At the moment, no cure exists. Any patient with low vision issues will want to investigate using assistive goggles for people with low vision.


Parents who already know that a family member has cone rod dystrophy should bring their kids in for examination by an ophthalmologist, according to a report from FamilyConnect.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cone rod dystrophy, you would be right to wonder how many other people may also have this disease. According to the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, the prevalence of cone rod dystrophies is 1 in 40,000.

Signs and Symptoms

A range of symptoms can occur with cone rod dystrophy, but some are more common than others, notes the NIH.

For example, as many as 80%-99% of patients will have abnormal pigment in their retina, as well as night blindness (nyctalopia) and profound sensitivity to light (photophobia). About 30% to 79% of individuals with CRD will have abnormal color vision.

Approximately 5% to 29% of patients wind up with impaired vision. A person with cone rod dystrophy may begin experiencing diminished acuity, problems with colors and a decrease in peripheral vision before being diagnosed.

 person with cone rod dystrophy may begin experiencing diminished acuity, problems with colors and a decrease in peripheral vision before being diagnosed.
person with cone rod dystrophy may begin experiencing diminished acuity, problems with colors and a decrease in peripheral vision before being diagnosed. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Common Causes

The group of eye disorders known as cone rod dystrophy has a number of causes, but they are all inherited conditions passed on from parents to children. The National Institutes of Health explains that the 30-plus types of CRD are caused by mutations in multiple genes, meaning there are various ways to inherit this disease.

Options and Support

After learning about the prospect of diminishing eyesight because of a condition like cone rod dystrophy, patients as well as their loved ones can gain strength by relying on help in the form of software, technology and community. They avail themselves by checking out low vision apps, testing low vision aids and experiencing a support group.

* Low Vision Apps

Among the low vision products available to disabled individuals are apps that you can download in an instant over the internet. Make sure that your smartphone’s operating system is up-to-date before downloading low vision apps, to ensure that they will work properly on your device. A good overview of low vision apps is available at iAccessibility.

Of course, you can make adjustments to the phone itself, such as changing the contrast or using an assistant that responds to your verbal commands and reads text to you from the screen.

* Low Vision Aids

Low vision glasses, also referred to as visual impairment aids, are devices that are designed to enhance your existing vision. Patients who are in search of technology for the visually impaired need to read product reviews and arrange to test low vision glasses to see what difference they might make for their particular condition.

One example of wearable technology for the blind is the eSight, which can provide increased visual information to make up for any gaps in the patient’s field of view, by stimulating synaptic activity (carrying signals through the optic nerve). It’s a non-surgical, wearable device for visually impaired and legally blind people to see.

* Support Groups

When dealing with an ocular disease such as cone rod dystrophy, be prepared for good days and bad days. It can do wonders for your morale to spend time with other individuals with the same type of diagnosis, so you can feel connected and become part of a community. You’ll share stories about your experiences with CRD and see that you’re not so alone, with others going through the same issues. Ask your eye care professional for assistance in finding a local support group.

Your Resource for Questions About Cone Rod Dystrophy and Assistance for Low Vision

With so much information to absorb about cone rod dystrophy, you and your loved ones may be feeling somewhat overwhelmed. You should know that while there currently isn’t a treatment available to stop CRD from causing people to go blind, you may be a candidate for options to reduce the rate of degeneration. Join a support group to share details with people in similar circumstances. It’s also worthwhile to work with low vision apps as well as to look into the option of using low vision aids to enhance your vision. For more information about our approach to vision enhancement or to speak with us about eSight technology, please click here today.

Did you find this post helpful? Learn more about Stargardt’s disease.

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