Summer is a popular time for family reunions, especially for large families. My dad is the oldest of 12 children, and family reunions are a way to see extended family members who we would not normally see. Literally hundreds of people gather each July to exchange stories, hear the latest news and catch up on important family happenings.
While it’s fun to hear about who got a new job, who was recently married or what new babies have joined the family, reunions and gatherings can serve another purpose as well. With so many diseases and conditions having a genetic component, family reunions can be a perfect opportunity to learn a little bit about health history—especially eye history. Diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma are often passed down in families, a not-so-welcome inheritance proving that yes, we are related!
Reunions can be a way to simply work health issues into normal conversation. No family member wants to be formally interviewed for health concerns at a gathering, but take time to listen and take mental notes if a relative says that he or she has had a recent surgery or procedure or was hospitalized. Ask questions, and pay attention. That information could be helpful to you at your next eye appointment so you can talk to your doctor to see if you might have a similar condition.
Learning from one another is one of the gifts of being part of a family. We share common genes as well as common memories and stories, so take the time to dig a little deeper. One conversation at a family gathering may give you important information to discuss with your doctor at your next eye appointment.