Rod Cone Dystrophy

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Inherited Eye Problems

Rod cone dystrophy is evidenced by degeneration of photoreceptor rod and cone cells. It is expressed as a number of inherited eye problems, due to the common cause of malfunctioning of these photoreceptors. The cones and rods change light into electric nerve messages that transfer to our brain via our optic nerve. Cones are the photoreceptor cells which allow us to see fine details and color and comprise our central vision. Rods are for low light vision and permit night and peripheral vision. The malfunctioning photoreceptor cells be problematic starting in childhood, or may lose their functionality with time.

Rods & Cones

Rod and cone photoreceptors are good at seeing different things. Here are some examples:

Rods are good at 'seeing':

  • things that move but only in black and white
  • seeing in the dark
  • seeing things on the sides of us (peripheral vision)

Cones are good at 'seeing':

  • things that are still
  • fine details of thing in daylight
  • objects in color
  • things in fine detail including reading, looking at photographs and recognizing faces


  • gradual loss of night vision
  • gradual loss of peripheral vision
  • sensitivity to bright light
  • vision is best at dusk
  • errors in color vision in both red-green and blue-yellow ranges

Young children may develop:

  • Fast 'to and fro' movements of the eyes. This is referred to Nystagmus.
  • 'Roving' eye movements where the eyes appear to slowly wander around not fixing and staying still on any objects.
  • 'Eye Poking' where the child touches their eyes with their fingers.

Parents will often notice these signs by the way the child acts.


There are many different causes of Rod-Cone Dystrophies. Often one does not know why a child has the condition. When no cause can be identified this is called Idiopathic.

Most Rod-Cone Dystrophies are genetically based and result from "misprints" in a child's genes, and are typically carried forward from the parents' genes although sometimes by chance a new mistake occurs in the child's genes and the parents' genes are normal.

rod cone dystrophy

Conventional Treatment

There is no good conventional way to stop the sight loss.

Complementary Treatment

Since we consider most eye conditions to be a reflection of the health of the whole body, lifestyle choices and diet can play a major factor in getting and maintaining good vision.

  • See our general recommendations for healthy eyes.

  • Eye exercises can help to bring energy and blood to the eyes, thereby helping to drain away toxins or congestion to the eyes. These are free general eye exercises and acupressure points for overall eye health.

  • Energy moving modalities such as acupuncture and microcurrent stimulation may be helpful.

Find Vitamins & Supplements to Support Photoreceptors

Related Conditions

Other eye conditions where the rod and cone photoreceptor cells do not work properly include: Leber's Amaurosis, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Usher Syndrome and Batten's Disease.

Also known as: Retinal Cone Degeneration or Dystrophy,


Though there are no specific studies on nutrients and this particular condition, there is extensive research on nutrients such as lutein, zeaxanthin and bilberry among others that have been shown to be essential for the health of the rod-cone structures. Based on these studies, Dr. Grossman has selected specific nutrients and products to help support this part of the eye and overall eye health. Some research on macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa may be applicable.