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How Your Genetics Can Impact Eye Health

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Genetics play a large role in the health of our bodies, and our eyes are no exception. As we continue to highlight Healthy Vision Month, we are showcasing just how genetics can impact eye health. It is important to understand how your family medical history can affect your vision, so you can share this information with your ophthalmologist as they develop your care plans.

Eye Conditions with Genetic Links

Studies have shown that nearsightedness and farsightedness have a strong genetic component. In fact, if both parents are nearsighted or farsighted, there is a substantial likelihood that their children will be as well. Having this knowledge for yourself, and sharing with your family and ophthalmologist, empowers all of you when it comes to your vision and any necessary treatment interventions.

Color blindness (also referred to as “color vision deficiency”) is also heavily dependent on genetics. This condition is defined by the difference in how the retina’s light-sensitive cells respond to certain colors. Similarly to nearsightedness and farsightedness, sharing this knowledge is helpful for both your family and your ophthalmologist.

Genetic Influences on Eye Problems

When your ophthalmologist knows the types of eye diseases that run in your family, it can help him or her to develop a more customized care plan. For example, they may recommend more frequent eye exams to catch and treat eye diseases earlier. The earlier an eye disease is caught, the better chance vision can be saved, which is ultimately everyone’s goal.

Glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts can be genetic eye diseases. For African Americans, there is a higher likelihood of developing cataracts and glaucoma, which also correlates to a higher likelihood of developing blindness. When ophthalmologists have the additional knowledge of family history and history of eye diseases, they can intervene more quickly in the hopes of treating and preserving vision.

With summer around the corner and more family gatherings and events likely occurring, it’s a great opportunity to learn about your medical history especially as it relates to vision. Sharing this knowledge with your ophthalmologist and care team sets all of you up for success and can help to put you on a path for long-term healthy vision. If you’re due for a comprehensive eye exam, set one up with our experts today so they can also help to learn your family history and support your vision health.