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Share Your Eye Diagnosis with Family

Holiday Family

As the saying goes, "praemonitus praemunitus." That's Latin for "forewarned is forearmed." In the case of a tendency to an inherited eye disease or condition, it's key.

Genetic factors play a role in so many kinds of eye diseases, including some that are the leading cause of blindness among all ages, that it's important for you to share any new (or maybe not so new) diagnoses with your entire family.

For instance, according to Susan Chortkoff, MD, an ophthalmologist at the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah, "Glaucoma tends to run in families, and the earlier it is detected the better chance that there will not be detectable vision loss. The most common type of glaucoma in this country is open angle glaucoma which has no symptoms and requires diagnosis by a licensed eye care professional."

In adults, age-related macular degeneration (commonly referred to as AMD) joins glaucoma as another leading cause of blindness and appears to be inherited in a large portion of cases. Retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease of the retina that causes night blindness and gradual vision loss, is another potentially inherited eye disease.

And, did you know that more than 60 percent of cases of blindness among infants are caused by inherited eye diseases such as congenital cataracts, congenital glaucoma, retinal degeneration, optic atrophy, and eye malformations? Common vision problems may also be inherited. They include strabismus (cross-eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism.

"So if you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with any disease that may be inherited, get everyone in for a dilated eye exam as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can make all the difference," notes Chortkoff.