You can thank your family for a lot of good things including your incredibly good looks, your sense of humor, and your ability to dress without looking like a clown. There are some other things, however, that you may not want to thank your family for including genetic issues like genetic eye diseases like childhood blindness, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration.
1. Childhood Blindness
According to studies, nearly 60% of all childhood blindness is caused by a genetic condition including atrophy of the optic nerve, congenital glaucoma, ocular malformations, and retinitis pigmentosa. Although childhood blindness is something that is very rare, if you, your spouse, or a close family member suffer from any of these eye diseases then your child may be at risk of developing them.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes pressure in the eye (the optic nerve) which can result in blurred vision or even blindness. While most types of glaucoma are caused by old age, early-onset glaucoma is typically something that is hereditary. About 10-33% of people with juvenile open-angle glaucoma develop it because of a genetic mutation in their MYOC gene. The MYOC gene produces a protein in the eye called myocilin which helps to monitor the pressure in the eye. When there is a genetic abnormality, the pressure in the eye increases and results in glaucoma.
3. Age-Related Macular Degeneration
As the leading cause of blindness, macular degeneration is a disease that affects nearly 10 million people. The tricky thing about macular degeneration is that there is no cure for it yet, which makes people wonder what causes it and if they can prevent it. Although the root cause of macular degeneration is unknown, it is believed to be linked to both environmental factors and heredity which is why nearly half of macular degeneration patients have a genetic predisposition to it.
When these eye diseases are caught in the early stages, they are typically fairly easy to treat and at least prevent from worsening. The tricky thing though is understanding your genetic history and what you may or may not be exposed to. If you do have a family history of any of these eye diseases the best thing you can do is get regular eye exams from your eye doctor. To learn more about your eye health, reach out to your eye doctor today and schedule an appointment with them.