Genetic testing is of increasing clinical utility for diagnosing inherited eye disease. Clarifying a clinical diagnosis is important for accurate estimation of prognosis, facilitating genetic counselling and management of families, and in the future will direct gene-specific therapeutic strategies. Often, precise diagnosis of genetic ophthalmic conditions is complicated by genetic heterogeneity, a difficulty that the so-called ‘next-generation sequencing’ technologies promise to overcome. Despite considerable counselling and ethical complexities, next-generation sequencing offers to revolutionize clinical practice. This will necessitate considerable adjustment to standard practice but has the power to deliver a personalized approach to genomic medicine for many more patients and enhance the potential for preventing vision loss.