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Are Your Eye Issues Hereditary?

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Researchers have long been working to find a connection between eye issues and genes. Results from various studies and researches reveal that eye problems, such as lazy eyes, color blindness and nearsightedness are often hereditary.

Although both farsightedness and near-sightedness are often inherited, it is usually impossible to identify the environmental or genetic factors that are to blame. Many pediatric ophthalmologists believe that a child has a 25-50% risk of experiencing nearsightedness if both the parents are nearsighted.

It is also interesting to note that only females carry and pass on the genes responsible for color blindness, but it is far more common for men to have this condition.

But scientists also reveal that an individual will not necessarily acquire an eye disease if he/she has the gene.

Inherited eye diseases may also lead to blindness in infants. These diseases include:

  • Retinal degeneration
  • Optic atrophy
  • Congenital glaucoma
  • Eye malfunctions
  • Fundus dystrophies
  • Congenital cataracts

Diseases like age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma are the leading causes of blindness in adults. It can be due to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Another disease which affects your eyes is diabetes – this medical condition is also caused by family history, lifestyle or your genetic makeup. Common eye problems due to diabetes include glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic macular oedema and diabetic retinopathy.

Although nearsightedness can be detected as early as age 3, children usually do not complain about nearsightedness until they start going to school. One of the first signs that your child may be experiencing eye problems is squinting.

While we have strong evidence to conclude that most of our vision problems are hereditary, the number of people with near-sightedness has also increased significantly due to extended hours spent in front of screens. In fact, medical scientists observe that spending time outdoors in early childhood reduces the onset of myopia, which has become more common in recent years. So, make sure you begin scheduling eye exams with an ophthalmologist or a pediatric optometrist as soon as your child turns one year old.

The Role of Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is also becoming a popular method to evaluate various hereditary ophthalmologic conditions. Genetic testing helps eye specialists treat painful symptoms and various vision problems.

Hereditary eye diseases vary significantly in their severity and symptoms. Genetic testing validates their cause and nature to design a better medical treatment process. In a few cases, results of genetic testing did not change the course of treatment, but proved helpful for genetic counseling.

Bottom Line

If eye problems run in your family, you need to take special care of your children’s eyes. When you have discomfort in your eye or experience vision problems, consult an optometrist who is going to conduct a comprehensive eye exam to identify problems. Early detection leads to a speedy correction process and lets your child function without experiencing any vision problems.

Written by Total Focus

At Total Focus Optometry, we’ve spent the last 70 years building meaningful relationships with our patients and their families. From routine eye exams to contact lens fittings we offer our patients a variety of services to meet their eye care needs.

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