So much of who we are is determined by genetics. Our eye color, hair texture, skin tone, and height are just a few of the thousands of traits that are influenced by genes. While some may differ whether curly hair is a blessing or a curse, one thing is clear: a genetic predisposition for an eye disease such as glaucoma is never a good thing.
Anyone can develop glaucoma, but having a family history of glaucoma increases the likelihood that you will develop the disease. Several population-based studies have confirmed that one of the greatest risk factors for glaucoma is a family history of the disease.
Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness and affects about 3 million Americans, but only 50 percent are aware that they have the disease. This is mostly due to the fact that glaucoma often has no symptoms in the early stages. One of the first symptoms of glaucoma is reduced peripheral vision. However, the presence of symptoms often means that the disease is more advanced and permanent vision loss has already taken place. There is no cure for glaucoma, but staying current with routine eye exams allows for early diagnosis and intervention.
If glaucoma runs in your family, you can prevent glaucoma-related vision loss by talking to your family members about the importance of comprehensive eye exams. Holidays and family gatherings are natural settings in which to start a conversation about glaucoma and prevention. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat (Source: Glaucoma Research Foundation).
You can’t change your genes, but you can change your priorities. Schedule annual comprehensive eye exams with dilation for your entire family so you can prevent eye disease. And if glaucoma runs in your family, tell your loved ones about the importance of regular vision check-ups. Looking for an eye care professional near your home? Click here for more information.