eye-disorders

Are all eyesight disorders genetic in nature? No, not 100%. However, a surprisingly high number of recognized eye disorders are linked to heredity and genetics.

Your genetics and family medical history will have a significant impact on your eyesight, and the disorders you’re likely to develop over time. Even some of the most common issues, like near- or far-sightedness, appear to have a genetic component.

Know Your Family Eyesight History!

Having an ancestor with certain eye disorders doesn’t guarantee you will also develop it, but you will typically be at a higher risk. That means you should be aware of your family medical history, and tell your optometrist if certain diseases run in your family, in particular:

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is caused by an increase in fluid pressure within the eye, leading to ongoing damage to the optic nerve. It’s one of the most common causes of blindness in adults, and it has been closely linked to genetic inheritance. If other people in your family have been diagnosed with glaucoma, you are four to nine times more likely to develop the disorder yourself.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

When people talk about their eyes going bad as they age, they’re usually referring to AMD. This disorder affects the macula, the part of the retina that sees things directly in front of you. AMD isn’t always caused by genetic factors, but there is a link. Those with family members suffering with AMD will be four times as likely to experience it themselves.

Cataracts

Cataracts are caused by proteins in the eye clumping together in front of the lens, causing a cloudy area that reduces vision. As with AMD, cataracts are not always due to genetics, but having cataracts in your family will put you at higher risk as well.

The good news here is that cataract surgery is a refined practice, with a 98%+ success rate in restoring vision.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa is a condition where the light-sensing cells in the retina die off over time, leading to increasing blindness. Typically, a patient first loses their night vision, then peripheral vision, and finally front-on vision. Issues with more than 60 different genes can lead to retinitis pigmentosa, making it another eye disorder heavily affected by heredity.

In short, the more you know about eye disorders in your family, the better you can prepare for your ocular future. Talk to your optometrist about preventative measures to improve your chances of enjoying lifelong vision!