Patients expect their physicians to ask about family history of heart disease, cancer and addiction, but they are generally less prepared when their eye doctor asks similar questions about their parents’ and grandparents’ eye health. If that’s a topic you’ve never broached with your loved ones, it may be time to do so. In this blog, the award-winning team of optometrists at Access Eye shares why having these conversations is important.
Many Eye Ailments Are Genetic
Some of the most serious eye conditions you can develop have a genetic link. For example, you have a 10% chance of developing glaucoma if you have a sibling with the same condition. The genetic link with macular degeneration is even stronger: if you have a parent or sibling with this condition, you have a 50% chance of developing it yourself.
In many cases, researchers are still trying to pinpoint the exact genes responsible so they can improve treatment and prevention efforts. In the meantime, it is a good idea to discuss eye conditions with your relatives so that you know what conditions to monitor.
Conversations Improve Early Detection
When an eye condition is ignored or uncaught for too long, vision loss may be irreversible. Your eye doctor has a better chance of preserving your eyesight and slowing the progression of disease when it is caught early. If you have a family history of a specific eye condition, be sure to inform your eye doctor so that he or she can monitor it.
Be Proactive with Your Eye Care
Once you have gleaned the necessary information from your loved ones, act on it. If you wait until you experience similar symptoms to mention it to your doctor, it may be too late to receive optimal care.
So many eye conditions are progressive, with symptoms that are too subtle to notice in early stages. Your eye is designed to be resilient, so it may find ways to compensate. This can mask those initial symptoms and make it impossible to spot until the problem gets significantly worse. Hence, you should let your eye doctor know as soon as you learn about any family history of eye problems and encourage your relatives to do the same.
Meet with Our Eye Doctors
If you have learned that eye disease runs in your family, or you are unsure of your family’s eye history, you should establish a relationship with an eye doctor to monitor your ocular health. To make an appointment at our Fredericksburg, Stafford, King George or Spotsylvania, Virginia offices, please call (540) 371-2020.