Will my Child Inherit my Eye Problems?

We know that many things that make us who we are can be inherited from our parents, hair and eye colour, facial features, height, or the lack thereof. Even some personality traits can be attributed to genetics, an easy going manner, or conversely, stubbornness, a love for reading or for taking apart and rebuilding things, a love of the outdoors. Other less desirable things can also be hereditary, such as arthritis, heart conditions or high blood pressure. But what about vision related problems? Can they also be inherited? Well, in some cases yes, but not necessarily.

Will you get your parent’s poor eyesight?

Quite often when you see parents with their children, you will notice that if one or both parents wear glasses, their child often has glasses as well. In fact, there are a few eye conditions that will get passed along from generation to generation. These include Myopia (nearsightedness), Hyperopia (farsightedness), Astigmatism and Colour Blindness. Retinitis Pigmentosa (a condition that can cause night blindness and blindness) although rare, is an inherited disorder. Does this mean that if your parents wear glasses, you are destined to wear glasses as well?  No it doesn’t. Although it does increase the risk, there is always the chance the condition may bypass you, especially if one parent has good eyesight. Even if both of your parents have one of these conditions, your chance of inheriting it from them is between 50% and one in three. Conversely, even if neither of your parents has one of these conditions, you can still potentially contract one. Colour blindness tends to affect men more often than women.

Are there any other eye conditions I should worry about?

Other eye conditions and diseases may also be connected to genetics. Some of these include Glaucoma, Cataracts and Macular Degeneration. Others include Amblyopia (lazy eye) and Strabismus (misaligned or crossed eyes). Uveitis (inflammation of the Uvea) is often connected to autoimmune diseases, which may be inherited. However, in many of these cases, good self-care can help you to avoid developing the conditions. A healthy diet, proper exercise, wearing sunglasses when outdoors and safety equipment when working or participating in sports can help prevent many of these conditions, even if you have a genetic link. Avoiding excessive blue light exposure by taking time away from your computer, tablet and smart phone can also help.

What do I do if poor eyesight is in my family?

The first thing to remember is; don’t panic. Just because one or both of your parents have eye problems, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will. Take good care of your eyes and make sure to see your optometrist regularly and maybe the condition will pass you by. And if it doesn’t, there is still no reason to worry. There are many styles of glasses out there, and you should be able to rock a cool pair as your latest fashion accessory. And if glasses don’t fit your style, check with your optometrist about the latest contact lenses on the market. Poor eyesight need not be a handicap if you don’t let it.