Each cell in your body contains 23 pairs of chromosomes. These chromosomes contain the genes you inherit from your parents. Genes can have many variants and studies of whole sets of genes reveal that these variants may increase or decrease your risk of developing certain eye conditions. Each variant may increase or decrease your risk very slightly, but this can add up across several genes. Over the past 15 years, scientists have identified nearly 500 genes that contribute to eye diseases ranging from the common to the rare.
What Are Genetics?
Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is decreased vision resulting from abnormal visual development in infancy and early childhood. Various eye disorders can cause abnormal visual development, including squinting (strabismus), short-sightedness (myopia) and cataracts.
Congenital cataracts are cloudy patches that are present on the lens of the eye at birth. They often occur as part of birth defects such as Down syndrome or congenital rubella. Congenital cataracts may affect one or both eyes. However, most babies with the condition have cataracts in only one eye. Congenital cataracts often look different from other forms of cataracts, causing symptoms such as gray or white cloudiness of the pupil and unusual rapid eye movements (nystagmus).
Early-onset glaucoma is a condition in which damage to the optic nerves leads to reduction in side (peripheral) vision in individuals under the age of 40. In addition to vision problems, the condition can cause bulging eyes, excessive tearing and abnormal sensitivity to light (photophobia). If left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
Achromatopsia is a retinal disorder characterized by a total or partial absence of color vision. It also involves other problems with vision, including an increased sensitivity to light (photophobia), reduced sharpness of vision (low visual acuity) and unusual rapid eye movements (nystagmus). The condition typically develops in the first few months of life.
While the genes you inherit from your parents play an important role in determining your eye health, it is important to remember that most eye diseases are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Environmental factors include lifestyle factors, such as engaging in too much near-point work like reading.
If you are concerned about your eye health, or that of a relative, consult an eye doctor for evaluation and testing. If you have an inherited eye disease, your eye doctor will work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
For a reputable eye doctor in your area, Dr. Michael Pedrotti can assist you with any eye health questions as well as address any of your other eye care needs. We are committed to providing each patient with quality vision solutions. Our staff holds firmly to the value of offering excellent service, care and products through friendly, positive and professional teamwork. Call us today at (937) 435-2437 or contact us for any questions that you might have on your eye care needs!