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How Genetics Shape Your Eyes and Vision

Eye diseases can sometimes run in families due to genetics. If your family has a history of eye conditions, you might be at risk, too. But don’t worry; having a family history doesn’t guarantee you’ll have these eye problems. There are things you can do to take care of your eyes and prevent issues, like getting regular eye check-ups and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Let’s explore how genetics and eye conditions are connected and what you can do to keep your eyes healthy.

Common Hereditary Eye Diseases

With inherited eye diseases, early diagnoses are the key to managing these conditions, but they can worsen without proper care. 


Glaucoma stems from heightened pressure inside the eye, potentially harming the optic nerve—a vital link between the eye and the brain. Symptoms encompass gradual vision loss, particularly in peripheral vision, accompanied by eye pain, redness, headaches, and nausea.

Is Glaucoma inherited? Yes. Hence, informing your glaucoma specialist about any family history of severe vision loss or blindness from glaucoma is crucial. Early detection is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. Typically, treatment involves medication, surgery, and lifestyle adjustments.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy(DR) is a severe eye disease that can affect people with diabetes. It arises due to high blood sugar levels damaging the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye. This damage can lead to various problems, including blurred vision, floaters, and vision loss.

Genetics play a role in the onset of this condition because diabetes is genetically linked. While genetic factors influence susceptibility, we’re not discussing a preordained path to vision loss. However, healthy choices, like eating well and exercising, can make a big difference, even if you have genes that lean you towards the condition.

A cataract occurs when the eye’s natural lens, positioned behind the iris and pupil, becomes cloudy. It is the leading cause of vision loss, causing issues like blurred vision, heightened glare in bright lights, difficulties with night vision, and potential blindness.

In some cases, hereditary eye problems related to cataracts may be passed down within families, particularly affecting children. Certain types, such as congenital cataracts, can be genetically inherited and may manifest in infants or young kids.

Over 100 genes have been linked to cataract formation. Fortunately, cataracts can be treated through surgery.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease that affects the macula, a tiny part of your retina responsible for central vision. This central vision lets you see fine details, like recognising faces, reading, and driving.

Here’s how it works:

The macula contains light-sensitive cells called cones. In AMD, these cones gradually deteriorate, causing:

  • Blurred central vision: Difficulty reading, recognising faces, and seeing fine details.
  • Distorted vision: Straight lines may appear wavy or crooked.
  • Blind spots: You may develop holes in your central vision, creating blind spots.

Is Macular degeneration hereditary? It can be hereditary in some cases. However, it may be caused by genetic and environmental factors. AMD is not curable, but it can be treated to slow further vision loss.

Color Blindness

Looking through glasses to bleach nature landscape – tulips field. Color blindness. World perception during depression. Medical condition. Health and disease concept.

Imagine reds and greens melting into one mushy blur. That’s the world for some with colour blindness, a condition where specific colours get all tangled up. Thankfully, it’s mainly inherited, but here’s the twist: the gene usually hangs out on the mom’s X chromosome. So, sons have a 50% chance of becoming color blind if she carries it, but daughters just carry the gene itself. Double the gene dose from both parents? Then, sons and daughters have a 50% chance of experiencing colour confusion. That’s why only about 1 in 200 women see the world in this blended way. While there’s no cure, people with colour blindness find clever ways to adapt and live vibrant lives, even if those reds and greens seem shy.

Lazy Eye Or Crossed Eyes

Amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye, is a visual development disorder where the vision in one eye fails to develop properly. Strabismus, or crossed eyes, is a condition where the eyes aren’t properly aligned, with one turning inward or outward.

It’s important to note that lazy eye is not typically a genetic condition, although certain genetic diseases like albinism can contribute to it. On the other hand, crossed eyes can have a genetic component. Both conditions may result from weak eye muscles, trauma, or disturbances in normal visual development.

If you have a family history of inherited eye diseases, you can take proactive steps to safeguard your vision and minimise the risk of such conditions:

1. Unearth your family’s eye disease history – symptoms, age of onset, and its path.

2. Make regular eye exams your routine, with an eye specialist by your side.

3. Explore genetic testing, a potential key to unlocking your genetic eye destiny.

4. Nourish your body, move your muscles, and shield your eyes from UV’s harmful gaze.

5. Find solace and knowledge in support groups and reliable eye health sources.

6. Follow your doctor’s guidance for managing or preventing genetic eye diseases and disorders.You can always consult with Chadderton Opticians on your eye health concerns. Schedule an appointment today.

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