Family traditions are a beautiful thing. Perhaps your own family has special recipes for certain holidays or particular vacation spots you return to over and over again. Talking about these traditions makes the memories even richer.
However, there are other family “traditions” that are not as fun to recount — but nonetheless important to discuss. That includes your family health history and eye health history.
You may not know it, but genetic factors play a role in many eye conditions, ranging from common vision problems like nearsightedness to more serious diseases that may cause vision loss. Educating yourself about your family’s eye health history is an important part of protecting yourself against declining vision or vision loss related to these diseases.
Take a moment to learn why you should know your family’s eye health history, from Dr. Raymond Stein of Bochner Eye Institute.
Eye Diseases That Can Be Hereditary
Glaucoma: According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), if you have a family member with glaucoma, you are four to nine times more likely to get the disease.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): A family history of macular degeneration increases your risk of the disease three to four times, according to the AAO.
Talk to your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents about their eye health history so you can get a comprehensive understanding of your family tree.
What to Do If You Have a Family History of Eye Disease
Learning that an eye disease runs in your family empowers you to make better health decisions that may help you avoid the disease or catch it early.
If you have discovered that an eye disease runs in your family, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself against vision loss is to get regular eye exams. These exams allow a professional to monitor your vision and detect any problems in their early stages, when they are more easily corrected. Catching glaucoma or AMD in its early stages means you have a better chance of avoiding vision loss than if you were to catch it in its more advanced stages. Vision lost to glaucoma, AMD and other diseases usually cannot be restored.
You can also take steps to mitigate some of the other, more preventable risk factors for these diseases. For instance, eating lots of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, can lower your risk of eye disease, as can habits like not smoking and protecting your eyes from sun exposure.
Information and education are key. Do your homework and talk with your eye doctor about other steps you can take to lower your chances of developing a serious eye disease.
Contact Dr. Raymond Stein
For more information about reducing your risk of sight-stealing eye diseases, please contact Dr. Stein today.