Can eye diseases be inherited?

Medically reviewed by Tina Patel, Contact Lens Optician at Feel Good Contacts.

There are many factors as to why you can develop an eye disease or condition, do genetics play a role? Yes, you can inherit an eye disease through the genes in your family. Not all eye conditions are inherited, and some have more of a genetic link than others.

Which eye conditions are inherited?

Either the condition itself is inherited or the predisposition for developing it. There are more than 350 hereditary eye conditions, including:

  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration
  • Near-sightedness
  • Far-sightedness
  • Strabismus
  • Myopia
  • Astigmatism
  • Colour vision deficiency
  • Achromatopsia
  • Corneal dystrophies
  • Night blindness
  • Retinitis pigmentosa

Macular degeneration and glaucoma are two of the leading causes of blindness. If you have a family member with one of these conditions, you are much more likely to develop it yourself. In the case of glaucoma, you could be up to 9 times more likely to develop it.

Inherited retinal diseases (IRD)

Inherited retinal diseases (IRD) are eye conditions that can cause acute vision loss or even blindness. These diseases are a result of one (or several) disordered genes. Although these genetic conditions are rare, however, the symptoms can become severe the longer they progress, and the diseases can progress at different rates. There are over 260 different genes known to cause IRD.

If your optician thinks that you may have an IRD, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist where tests will be conducted to try and diagnose the specific disease. Treatment will be offered, and low-vision support frameworks will be suggested and encouraged.

Can eye diseases be prevented?

You can do some things to keep your eyes healthy, which in turn will minimise your chances of any issues and detect disease in the early stages. Here are all the ways you can look after your eyes.

Have regular eye tests

Everyone should have their eyes tested at least every 2 years. If your optician advises you to, you may need to have your eyes tested more frequently than this. Eye tests are important for looking at the overall health of your eyes, ensuring you can see clearly and detecting disease before it progresses to a more unmanageable stage.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Regular exercise and a nutritious diet will contribute towards good eye health. There are some risk factors to eye diseases like high blood pressure, excess weight, and diabetes which you can influence with healthy life choices to minimise your chances of developing eye diseases or at least slow the progress of it. For more information you can read our blog on foods and exercise for healthy eyes.

Wear sunglasses

Wearing sunglasses that protect against 100% of UVA and UVB rays will significantly lower your chance of developing diseases like cataracts. Even on overcast days, your eyes need to be protected because UV light can penetrate cloud. Here at Feel Good Contacts, all our sunglasses provide this vital protection, with the additional option of Transitions lenses and prescription sunglasses also available.

Know your family’s health history

Family history is important to know when it comes to your overall health, including the health of your eyes. Many eye diseases have no symptoms in the early stages, so it’s beneficial to know if any conditions run in your family; genetic counselling with your optician can help them to spot vision problems before they progress.

Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace medical care or an in-person check-up. Please check with an eyecare professional before purchasing any products or remedies. For information on our article review process, please refer to our Editorial Policy.

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