Is Bad Eyesight Hereditary?

Is Bad Eyesight Hereditary?

Numerous features, such as our skin tone, eye color, and hair type, are inherited from our parents. Our genes can also carry on from our parents certain illnesses and diseases, including vision problems. In addition to environmental factors, genetics can play a significant role in determining an individual’s level of vision. While we may not be able to change our genetic makeup, we can live a healthier lifestyle and reduce our risk of developing certain eye conditions.

What Are the Risks of Hereditary Eyesight?

1. Genetic mutations

Hereditary eyesight conditions are often caused by genetic mutations, which can increase the risk of developing eye disorders. 

2. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

This condition affects the macula, leading to central vision loss. The risk of developing AMD is higher if there is a family history of the disease. 

3. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is characterized by damage to the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss. Certain genetic factors can increase the risk of developing this condition. 

4. Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurry vision. There may be a hereditary component to the development of cataracts. 

5. Retinitis pigmentosa

This genetic disorder affects the retina and can lead to progressive vision loss, especially in low-light conditions. 

6. Myopia (nearsightedness)

Myopia is a common refractive error where distant objects appear blurry. It can have a hereditary component, with children of myopic parents being more likely to develop the condition.

7. Hyperopia (farsightedness)

Hyperopia causes close objects to appear blurry. Like myopia, there may be a genetic influence on the development of this refractive error

8. Color blindness

Color blindness is a genetic condition that affects the ability to perceive certain colors. It is more common in males and can be inherited from parents. 

9. Strabismus

Strabismus, or crossed eyes, occurs when the eyes are misaligned. There may be a hereditary predisposition for this condition. 

10. Optic atrophy

Optic atrophy is the degeneration of the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. It can be caused by various genetic factors and is often progressive. 

It is important to remember that having a family history of these conditions does not guarantee that one will develop them. Regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist can help to detect any potential issues early on and allow for appropriate management and treatment.

Environmental Factors That Can Affect Your Eyesight

In addition to genetic influences, environmental factors can also have an impact on an individual’s visual acuity. You can learn more about cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer in our blog post here. Excessive sun exposure can also cause cataracts. In addition to harming your vision and eye health, smoking increases your risk of blindness by four times when compared to non-smokers.

Treatment for Genetically Poor Vision

Even though you cannot change your genetic makeup, most of the conditions mentioned above are manageable or treatable, particularly if they are detected early. Knowing which conditions are inherited and being aware of your family’s medical history will help you make an informed treatment decision. An annual comprehensive eye exam will help determine the cause of your vision issues and develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Numerous lifestyle choices may reduce overall risk and/or aid in the management of inherited vision disorders.

Maintain Eye Health And Vision

We are unable to change our genetic makeup or how it affects us, but we can take good care of our health to ward off the development of these diseases and conditions that affect the eyes. Maintaining your vision and eye health can be facilitated by eating a nutritious, balanced diet, drinking lots of water, and getting enough sleep. Eating a lot of orange fruit and vegetables (carrots, for example) and fish can help prevent some eye diseases; also, drinking plenty of water can reduce your risk of developing dry eyes.

To find out more about your specific risk of developing eye diseases, please speak with an eye doctor if you’re worried about eye diseases running in your family. Check out our blog for updates on vision and eye health to learn more about maintaining the health of your eyes. Having a routine eye exam once every two years will also enable you to detect any changes in your vision and identify any potential future conditions.

Want to read more about eyesight health? Visit our vision blog.

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Dr. Kimberly Langdon

Kimberly Langdon

Dr. Kimberly Langdon has been an MD for 31 years, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place accolades for her Senior Research Project and Score of 98th percentile on a National Proficiency Test.

During her clinical career, she delivered over 2000 babies and specialized in minimally invasive procedures, menopause, endometriosis, menstrual disorders, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. After retiring from clinical practice, she founded a medical device company to commercialize her two patented and four patent-pending medical devices for both life-threatening and non-life-threatening infections.

Kimberly Langdon M.D.

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Coologics, 2010-present
The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine 1987-1991
The Ohio State University Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program 1991-1995
Private practice 1995-2010

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., received his medical doctorate from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. During his medical school training, Dr. Hsu worked with various patients, including adult and pediatric patients with acute and chronic conditions. Dr. Hsu’s interests include neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics, and sleep medicine.

Before medical school, Dr. Hsu finished a master’s degree at Harvard University and wrote a thesis on neuroimaging in schizophrenia patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospital. Dr. Hsu was also a part of the 2008 NASA Phoenix Lander Mission team, which sent a robotic spacecraft to the North polar region of Mars. Dr. Hsu also had research experience on neuroimaging in neonates at Boston Children’s Hospital, another Harvard Medical School-affiliated Hospital.

Since graduating from medical school, Dr. Hsu has worked as a full-time medical writer and consultant. In addition, he has experience writing and ghostwriting books and articles for physicians and health technology start-up companies. Dr. Hsu believes good communication between healthcare providers and patients creates the best results.


-Peer Reviewed Journal Article:
Kounaves, S.P., Hecht, M.H., West, S.J., Morookian, J.-M., Young, S.M.M., Quinn, R., Grunthaner, P., Wen, X., Weilert, M., Cable, C.A., Fisher, A., Gospodinova, K., Kapit, J., Stroble, S., Hsu, P.-C., Clark, B.C., Ming, D.W. and Smith, P.H. The MECA wet chemistry laboratory on the 2007 phoenix mars scout Lander. Journal of Geophysical Research. 2009, Mar; 114(E3): 10.1029/2008je003084.

-Poster Presentation:
2011 Harvard Psychiatry Mysell Poster Session; Boston, MA
Hsu, P.C., Rathi, Y., Eckbo, R., Nestor, P., Niznikiewicz, M., Thompson, E., Kubicki, M., Shenton, M.E. (March, 2011). Two-Tensor Diffusion Tensor Imaging of Acoustic Radiations in Schizophrenia

Dr. Nicolette Natale

Nicolette Natale

Dr. Nicolette Natale is a physician, with a background in Psychology, General Medicine, and English Literature, combining her expertise to provide readers with the most accurate, easy-to-understand, and comprehensive information regarding healthcare. She received her Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University, and her bachelor’s in English Literature and Psychology from the University of Miami. Dr. Natale seeks to empower individuals with knowledge, fostering a greater understanding of holistic health and encouraging a proactive approach to well-being