Did you know that age-related macular degeneration,
cataracts and glaucoma (among other eye diseases) could be hereditary eye diseases
that are passed down genetically? Knowing your family history of eye diseases
can be as crucial to your overall health as knowing your family history
of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. This knowledge could save your vision.
If you have a family history of age-related macular degeneration, you have
a 50 percent chance of developing the disease. According to the
Glaucoma Research Foundation, individuals with a family history of glaucoma are four to nine percent
more likely to develop the disease. If you have a family history of eye
diseases, it’s important to make your eye doctor aware of that history.
Early detection of eye diseases is the best way to save your vision. Because
early symptoms of many eye diseases may go unnoticed, regular eye exams
are crucial in detecting diseases early and preventing vision loss. If
you have a family history of glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration,
your ophthalmologist may recommend more frequent eye exams in an effort
to detect eye diseases early.
More than 500 genes that contribute to inherited eye diseases have been
detected in the last two decades. Though DNA testing for these genes is
not widely available, the groundbreaking research is advancing the testing
of detection and treatment of eye diseases. The
National Eye Institute is working with other vision research labs to make this testing more widely
Other factors that can contribute to eye diseases include age, gender and
race. Your doctor may recommend early testing or more frequent eye exams
due to these factors. However, your doctor won’t know of family
history of eye disease unless you inform him or her. Before your next
eye exam, research your family history of eye diseases and vision loss.
Inform your doctor of any eye diseases or vision loss in your family,
whether you think they may be genetic or not. Knowing your family history
can lead to early detection and may help prevent vision loss.
When considering your eye care, be sure to stay up to date with the latest
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