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Hereditary Eye Conditions

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so naturally, we’ve been thinking a lot about family this week.  Did you know that genetic inheritance plays a major role in many of the ocular diseases that are the leading cause of blindness in children and adults?  Read on to learn more.

According to the Cleveland Eye Clinic, 60% if blindness in infants is caused by inherited eye diseases, including congenital cataracts, congenital glaucoma, retinal degenerations, and eye malformations.  As many as 40% of patients with strabismus, also known as crossed-eyes, have a family history of the disorder. In fact, researchers are currently working on discovering which genes are responsible for ocular misalignment.  In adults, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are two of the leading causes of blindness, both of which have some level of genetic inheritance. If you have a history of glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration, routine eye exams are key to early treatment.  In addition to this, even the most common vision problems are genetically determined.  These conditions include strabismus, amblyopia (lazy eye), myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.There are several other ocular disorders that have strong genetic components. The most familiar one is color blindness.

Color blindness affects males predominantly and is a sex-linked inherited characteristic where the ability to detect one or more of the fundamental colors is missing.  Red-Green colorblindness is the most common inherited form, while Blue-Yellow colorblindness results from an ocular disease.  Another disorder that has a high rate of inheritance is retinitis pigmentosa which causes night blindness and gradual vision loss. Progress is being made in the research for the identification of genes responsible for its development.There are genetic tests available to help identify whether you or your child are at risk, and this testing can help provide early diagnosis and effective treatment for the complications related to these and other ocular conditions and diseases.