Perhaps you can remember learning about genetics in school, and you were able to link a certain eye color from yourself to a parent or grandparent? Turns out, there are many other conditions related to your eyes and vision that can also be caused by genetics. Some of the most common conditions related to genetics include Glaucoma, Cataracts, Macular Degeneration, and even some refractive errors.
- Glaucoma – If you have a positive family history of primary open angle glaucoma (the most common form of glaucoma), studies have shown that you are four to nine times more likely to develop glaucoma yourself than someone who has no family history. There are other types of glaucoma; such as traumatic or secondary to other conditions, that are not genetically linked. It is recommended that people with a family history of glaucoma have dilated exams every one to two years, depending on your age.
- Cataracts – The onset of cataracts may be brought on by a number of things, including diabetes, exposure to ultraviolet light, injury, or simply just aging. Some cataracts have been linked to certain genetic factors that can increase a person’s risk of development. While the diagnosis of cataracts may sound intimidating, cataract surgery is typically quick and effective, thanks to modern technology. You can read more about cataract surgery here.
- Macular Degeneration – Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss. This occurs when the center part of your retina (Macula), begins to deteriorate. Studies have shown that people who have an immediate family member with macular degeneration are three to four times more likely to develop macular degeneration themselves.
- Color blindness: The inability to distinguish between certain colors can be genetically linked as well. This is because the deficiency is mainly linked to a defective chromosome. This is also more common in males than females. You can read more about the different types of color blindness here.
- Refractive errors- there are three types of refractive errors that can be genetically linked. They are Myopia, Hyperopia, and Astigmatism.
- Myopia, or nearsightedness, occurs when the eyeball is elongated. This causes objects in the distance to be blurry. New research has identified 161 genetic markers that influence myopia. If a person has many of these genetic markers, they are considered 10x more likely to develop myopia. However, there are many other things that are causing the prevalence of myopia to rise in recent years.
- Hyperopia, or farsightedness, is the opposite of myopia. This occurs when the eyeball is shortened, and makes it harder for people to see objects up close. People with high hyperopia will experience difficulty seeing both up close, and at a distance. They are also at increased risk for other conditions, such as amblyopia (lazy eye). Genetics is the number one risk factor for developing hyperopia.
- Astigmatism is caused by asymmetric curvature of the cornea, or front surface of the eye. Astigmatism is often found with either myopia or hyperopia. Your risk for developing it is higher if a parent has astigmatism.
If you have a positive family health history of any of these conditions, be sure to tell your doctor so they can monitor you. The doctors at Columbia Eye Consultants Optometry are well trained in each of these ocular conditions, and will help you manage each condition effectively. Early detection is essential in each of these conditions, so be sure to visit your optometrist regularly.
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