Challenges in elucidating the genetics of diabetic retinopathy.
IMPORTANCE: In the past decade, significant progress in genomic medicine and technologic developments has revolutionized our approach to common complex disorders in many areas of medicine, including ophthalmology. A disorder that still needs major genetic progress is diabetic retinopathy (DR), one of the leading causes of blindness in adults. OBJECTIVE: To perform a literature review, present the current findings, and highlight some key challenges in DR genetics. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: We performed a thorough literature review of the genetic factors for DR, including heritability scores, twin studies, family studies, candidate gene studies, linkage studies, and genome-wide association studies (GWASs). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Environmental and genetic factors for DR. RESULTS: Although there is clear demonstration of a genetic contribution in the development and progression of DR, the identification of susceptibility loci through candidate gene approaches, linkage studies, and GWASs is still in its infancy. The greatest obstacles remain a lack of power because of small sample size of available studies and a lack of phenotype standardization. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The field of DR genetics is still in its infancy and is a challenge because of the complexity of the disease. This review outlines some strategies and lessons for future investigation to improve our understanding of this complex genetic disorder.