Retinal Degenerations and Retinitis Pigmentosa

Our physicians are highly experienced in evaluating patients with established diseases of the retina, the multi-layered sensory tissue that lines the back of the eye. Electroretinography (ERG) is a test to measure the electrical response of the eye's light-sensitive cells (rods and cones). We perform ERG testing in two locations at Mass Eye and Ear:

Inherited Retinal Disorders Service (formerly the Electroretinography (ERG) Service), where most referred patients come for diagnosis, prognosis and genetic counseling. Telephone: 617-573-3621

Retina Service, where referred patients come with or without a consultation. Telephone: 617-573-3288

We provide training to residents, fellows, and medical students in the use of specialized measures of retinal function in the assessment of retinal disease. More than 500 pieces of information from each patient are stored in a computerized database for clinical research.


The Inherited Retinal Disorders Service provides specialized testing — including computerized, full-field, and focal ERGs — as well as measures of dark adaptation threshold, color vision and letter recognition macular perimetry. Additionally, we evaluate the macula with optical coherence tomography (OCT) in selected cases. Such medical advances allow us to make a careful and accurate diagnosis.

Specialized testing includes computerized electroretinography, which allows us to determine the extent of the condition and to estimate its future course. The testing and consultation will generally require an entire day spent in the Inherited Retinal Disorders Service.


Treatment from the Inherited Retinal Disorders Service is tailored for each condition. In the case of retinitis pigmentosa, we often treat patients with vitamin A. In conditions where applicable, visual aids are prescribed, including the ITT Night Vision pocket scope, which allows night-blind patients to achieve their best daylight vision under conditions of dim illumination. Other treatments may be discussed with your physician, based upon diagnosis. More information on vitamin A treatment is available here.


Patients six years and older are seen by our Inherited Retinal Disorders Service physicians in consultation at Mass. Eye and Ear. Appointments must be arranged several weeks in advance. Copies of results of any previous ocular examinations would be helpful.

Both the Inherited Retinal Disorders Service and the Retina Service schedule patient appointments between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

To arrange an appointment in the Inherited Retinal Disorders Service based on a physician’s referral, please contact:

Inherited Retinal Disorders Service
Massachusetts Eye and Ear
243 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
Telephone: 617-573-3621
Fax: 617-573-3661

To arrange an appointment in the Retina Service, please contact:

Retina Service
Massachusetts Eye and Ear 
243 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
Telephone: 617-573-3288