Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) belongs to a group of pigmentary retinopathies. It is the most common form of inherited retinal dystrophy, characterized by progressive degradation of photoreceptors that leads to nyctalopia, and ultimately, complete vision loss. RP is distinguished by the continuous retinal degeneration that progresses from the mid-periphery to the central and peripheral retina. RP was first described and named by Franciscus Cornelius Donders in the year 1857. It is one of the leading causes of bilateral blindness in adults, with an incidence of 1 in 3000 people worldwide. In this review, we are going to focus on the genetic heterogeneity of this disease, which is provided by various inheritance patterns, numerosity of variations and inter-/intra-familial variations based upon penetrance and expressivity. Although over 90 genes have been identified in RP patients, the genetic cause of approximately 50% of RP cases remains unknown. Heterogeneity of RP makes it an extremely complicated ocular impairment. It is so complicated that it is known as "fever of unknown origin". For prognosis and proper management of the disease, it is necessary to understand its genetic heterogeneity so that each phenotype related to the various genetic variations could be treated.
Keywords: Inherited retinal dystrophy; photoreceptors; retinal degeneration; retinal pigment epithelium; retinitis pigmentosa.