Your great-grandmother’s dining room table, your uncle’s old fishing gear, your grandpa’s fried chicken recipe; we inherit a lot of great things from our families. Be aware, though, not everything you inherit from your family is positive. Genetic risk factors are a big part of what your doctor checks for during a regular eye exam, and what you don’t know about your family’s history of eye disease can certainly hurt you. For example, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says that having one immediate family member with glaucoma makes you four to nine times more likely to develop the disease yourself.
Many eye conditions have genetic factors. Diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), astigmatism, and cataracts can all be genetic, so knowledge of your family’s eye health history is crucial in early detection and treatment or prevention of these and other genetic eye issues. How can you find out about your family’s eye health history? Ask around! Relatives closest on the family tree are your first resource for determining your own risk. Ask your parents, siblings, and grandparents if they know of any eye problems like glaucoma, astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness, or anything else in the family. Reunions also make for a great family history resource, so don’t be shy about asking aunts, uncles, and everyone else about the state of eye health in your family.
Don’t be so quick to have genetic testing done! The AAO has concluded that tests of such kinds don’t tend to be helpful in detecting and treating eye diseases. If you are really interested in genetic testing for congenital eye diseases, talk to your ophthalmologist. They can tell you about different tests and whether or not available tests might be helpful.
Your family history is important; don’t wait to find out what may be lurking in your genetics! If you are diagnosed with an eye health issue, it is also helpful to share that information with family members so they can let their own care providers know. Keep tabs on any eye issues you hear about among your family, and it just might help your care provider prevent problems for you in the future!
Set up an appointment today by calling 770-228-3836 or schedule your visit online, and speak with one of our doctors about your family’s eye health history. You might be surprised at what your family history has to say about your own eyes!