July 7, 2015

Which Eye Conditions are Hereditary?

Genetics are a common factor in contracting a number of eye conditions, many of which are the leading causes of blindness in children and infants. In fact, congenital diseases account for more than 60% of infant blindness. In adults, glaucoma and macular degeneration may be inherited much of the time.

Genetically-linked eye problems include the following:

Nearsightedness and farsightedness – Nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia) have a very strong genetic link. If both parents are nearsighted, there’s a strong likelihood that their children will also be nearsighted. Nevertheless, nearsightedness doesn’t depend on genetics alone since it can develop more quickly for students who spend a lot of time reading.

Color blindness – Inherited color blindness, a condition affecting 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women, impairs the ability to distinguish between various colors. The most frequent form of color blindness impairs the distinction between red from green. It’s most common among men because it’s passed down through the X chromosome rather than the Y chromosome.

Glaucoma – Glaucoma occurs when pressure damages the optic nerve, leading to vision loss and blindness. When a genetic variation causes fluid ducts in the eyes to develop abnormally, glaucoma occurs. Symptoms of congenital glaucoma can manifest in the first few months after birth. A family history of glaucoma can increase the risk of glaucoma by 4 to 9 percent.

Macular dystrophy – Macular dystrophy is a disease that causes the buildup of a yellow pigment on the macula, resulting in gradual vision loss. If both parents suffer from macular dystrophy, children may be predisposed to it when they’re older.

Strabismus (crossed-eyes) – Up to 40% of patients with crossed eyes have a family history of the disease. Amblyopia (lazy eye) and nystagmus (the inability to control side to side eye motion) may also be passed down through the family.

There are a number of retinal diseases caused by genetic mutations. However, a genetic predisposition isn’t a certainty. Proper eye care and nutrition can go a long way to minimizing the effect of hereditary eye conditions.

For questions about taking preventive measure against eye diseases, you can call our eye care specialists at 877-871-1684.