Are Any Eye Conditions Inherited or Genetic?

by Mar 27, 2023

Many health conditions run in families, or they have genetic predispositions that are present from birth. Eye conditions are no exception to this as many of the most common eye conditions have a genetic component.

Nearsightedness, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinitis pigmentosa all have genetic factors which contribute to developing these conditions. While there is no guarantee that a specific eye condition will occur simply because of a family history of the condition, it is certainly a factor worth considering.


If My Parents Wear Glasses, Will I Need Glasses?

Wearing glasses is not inherently something that will run in families. Glasses are used to correct many vision problems – not all of which are inherited.

Even those conditions which are related to genetics may present differently in children than in their parents.

However, nearsightedness in particular is related to genetic factors.

Nearsightedness, or myopia, will require glasses to see well far away even at a young age. This is often the reason glasses are needed when beginning school or after failing a vision test prior to obtaining a driver’s license.

If one or both parents are nearsighted, it is more likely that the child will develop myopia.

While this does increase the genetic risk of developing nearsightedness, there are factors that can help prevent or mitigate the progression of myopia in children.


Does Glaucoma Run in Families?

Glaucoma is a progressive eye condition and can lead to blindness if it is not treated appropriately. If there is a history of glaucoma in the family, it is a significant risk factor for developing glaucoma.

The type of glaucoma which is the most common – primary open angle glaucoma – is the most likely to be associated with running in families.

Parents, siblings, and children are the most relevant for determining if there is a risk of developing glaucoma.

Having a strong family history of glaucoma is considered a risk factor for developing the condition but is not enough alone to warrant any treatment besides additional monitoring for glaucomatous changes at a routine eye exam.


How Do Genetic Impact Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is an eye condition that can lead to blindness that often affects the elderly population.

Despite occurring late in life, there is a genetic factor to macular degeneration.

There are multiple genes that have been identified as potential risk factors for developing macular degeneration and vision loss as a result.

A family history of macular degeneration is a risk factor on its own, but with a positive genetic panel for either gene, the risk is much greater.

Since there are limited treatments for macular degeneration, if there are risk factors present, it is worth having a proactive monitoring system in place to avoid any progression without symptoms.


What is X Linked Retinitis Pigmentosa?

Unlike other eye conditions which have uniform genetic predispositions for both genders, retinitis pigmentosa is more often associated with males than females.

This is due to the inheritance of a mutated X chromosome from a mother who is a carrier of the disease.

Females have two X chromosomes while males have only one. If there is a mutation on the lone X chromosome in a male, the condition will be present.

Retinitis pigmentosa may run in families but will usually only be present in males on the mother’s side of the family.


Our eye doctor at Brooklyn Eye Care excels in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases and inherited eye conditions. Call our optometrist at (763) 999-6116 to schedule your appointment today. Our eye doctor, Dr. Vivian Ekemezie provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in the Brooklyn Park, MN area. 

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