Understanding Hereditary Eye Diseases

eye-diseaseEye doctors often ask you about your familys eye history so they have an idea of what to keep a close watch on when you visit their office. Here is a brief overview of some conditions you might want to mention to an eye doctor.


If you are colorblind, its very likely that someone in your family tree also has the condition. Colorblindness is more common in men than women because it is a sex-linked trait. There are two types of colorblindness - red/green and blue. Sometimes the effects of these conditions are mild, but other times they can severely affect vision. Unfortunately, being colorblind cannot be cured. It is something that those with the condition must learn to live with.

Crossed and Lazy Eyes

In technical terms, these issues are called strabismus and amblyopia, respectfully. Crossed and lazy eyes usually develop in babies and children. Being cross-eyed is common in children with other hereditary disorders such as Down syndrome. Both of these eye problems can be treated with eye patches and other methods that can train the eyes to function more normally and improve vision.


Astigmatism is a condition in which the front of the eye is deformed - which affects vision. The symptoms of astigmatism can include blurry vision and headaches. This condition can be found in children and adults alike and it is very common. Most people have at least a mild form of astigmatism, but it usually only affects vision if it is more severe. This condition can usually be corrected with glasses, contacts, or surgery.


People with cataracts experience blurred and cloudy vision. This disease develops slowly over time and it can also be found in your pets. There are a few reasons why cataracts develop in the eye, but most are from aging and eye injury. Cataracts are also linked to your genetics so keep it in mind if one of your relatives has had this problem. If it is appropriate for you, as suggested by your doctor, cataract surgery is available as a treatment option.


Glaucoma is an eye disease that can lead to vision loss because of increased pressure in the eye - this can damage the optic nerve. If it is not treated properly, loss of sight is very possible. You are more likely to get glaucoma if one of your family members has had it, but this disease is not only passed on through genetics. There are other risk factors, which can include eye injury.

These eye problems and diseases are all damaging to your vision, but the damage can be less if you get yourself and your family members tested at your eye doctor in the early stages. All of these conditions can be discovered if you visit your doctor and get your checkup. Make sure you make regular visits and discuss with your doctor your concerns and your family history.

Kevin Coutino is a freelance writer for Gainesville Eye Physicians, providing the finest eye care experience possible, led by Dr. Gregory D. Snodgrass, MD.

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