Genetic Eye Diseases and the Importance of Knowing Your Family's Medical History

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 30-Mar-2012

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 available.

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 news and information about our life-changing services at Key-Whitman Eye Center. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected!

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