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Is Bad Eyesight Genetic?

From the moment you put on your first pair of glasses, you’ve probably been wondering just why you have bad eyesight. Did you not eat enough carrots, or is this all mom and dad’s fault?

It seems like a simple question, but the answer is surprisingly complex.

Genetics and Eye Disease
While research is still ongoing, according to the Cleveland Clinic, doctors have determined that two of the most common and serious types of eye disease among adults, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, are in fact inherited in most instances. And that’s just the start, as researchers have also determined genetic links for other eye diseases, including strabismus and retinitis pigmentosa.

But what about more common conditions like near and farsightedness?

Common Eye Conditions
It turns out that even common eye conditions such as myopia – and its opposite, hyperopia – are also often caused by inherited genetic markers. In fact, Asian Scientist reports that people with a genetic predisposition towards refractive errorssuch as myopia and hyperopia are up to ten times more likely to develop those conditions.

Environmental Factors
The blame for your bad eyesight may not be entirely genetic. There are still plenty of environmental factors and bad habits that can damage your eyes and lead to ocular problems. Overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV radiation can cause cataracts, macular degeneration and even cancer. And smoking presents its own risks – smokers are four times more likely to go blind than non-smokers.

Tips to Promote Healthy Vision
While you may not be able to control your genetics, there are things you can do to promote good eyesight. Simple things like eating properly, drinking plenty of water, and getting a good night’s sleep can go a long way towards maintaining eye health; for example, a diet rich in fruits, leafy green vegetables, and fish can help prevent some age related eye disorders, while staying hydrated can prevent dry eye.

And if you do believe you may be at higher risk of eye disease due to family history, consult with your eye doctor. Because as mom always said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.