According to the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind), 1 in 7 Canadians will struggle with eye disease at some point in their life. Unfortunately, in many cases, it's because a condition is passed down from one generation to the next, with recent studies suggesting that genetics plays a key factor in numerous eye diseases.
In fact, both glaucoma and Age-related Macular Degeneration - two of the leading causes of blindness in Canadian adults - both appear to be inherited in the majority of cases. Studies have also linked cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and a disease known as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) directly to genetics.
In many cases these hereditary eye diseases have no noticeable symptoms in the early stages. By the time a patient realizes there's a problem, it's often already too late.
The good news is that there's one sure fire way to stop hereditary eye disease: early prevention. That's why Health Canada recommends that adults get an eye exam at least once every two years. If, however, your family has a history of a particular eye disease, you should be getting a complete eye exam once a year (or more). In most cases, an optometrist can detect the early stages of an eye disease, and even if there is no cure, they can often offer treatment options to minimize the impact.
Speak with your family members and find out if there's a history of eye disease. In many cases, it may skip a generation or only affect some individuals. Knowing there may be a problem is the first step in preventing it from happening. You should then let your optometrist know about the issue so they can take steps to monitor the disease and, if necessary, find the right treatment solution.
Hereditary eye disease may seem like something that's out of your control, but with a little knowledge, it's something that you can stop before it begins.
To find out if you're at risk of a hereditary eye disease or to book a complete eye exam, visit an FYidoctors optometrist near you.