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Do Certain Eye Diseases Run in Families?

Written by Shannon Wong on November 5, 2019

Genetic Eye Disease: Causes & Symptoms in Austin, TXThere is scientific evidence showing that some eye diseases are partially attributed to genetic factors. This means if you have a family history of certain eye diseases, you have a higher risk of developing these diseases.

Here, the team at Austin Eye discusses common eye diseases that run in families and what you can do to maintain good eye health.

Cataracts

A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Everyone is at risk of developing cataracts due to aging, but individuals with a family history of cataracts are at an increased risk. Other risk factors for cataracts include smoking, certain health conditions (e.g., diabetes) and overexposure to the sun.

Cataracts must be surgically removed. Cataract surgery is a safe and very effective procedure in which the natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) to restore crisp, clear vision. Today’s IOLs offer an array of benefits. Some restore vision at multiple distances, while others correct astigmatism.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. Individuals with a family history of glaucoma are at risk of developing the disease themselves. Other risk factors for glaucoma include diabetes, age, high blood pressure and use of corticosteroids.

Glaucoma is known as the “Silent Thief of Sight” because it usually occurs gradually and once symptoms are apparent, irreversible vision loss has occurred. There is no cure for glaucoma but several treatment options are available to slow down its progression.

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for visual acuity. Research shows individuals with a family history of AMD may be at an increased risk. Like glaucoma, AMD cannot be cured but there are several treatment options available to slow down the disease’s progression.

Knowing Your Family History Is Key

Early detection is key in treating and managing many eye diseases, including those linked to genetic factors. If you know you have a family history of eye disease, it is important that you have regular eye exams, so your eye doctor can check for symptoms and treat them in their early stages.

If you are experiencing eye symptoms, schedule a personal consultation with one of the board-certified ophthalmologists at Austin Eye. During your initial consultation, we will review your medical history, including family history of eye disease and examine your eyes thoroughly. After diagnosing the problem, we can review your treatment options with you. Contact us by calling our North office at (512) 250-2020 or our Central office at (512) 454-2020.