It’s almost Mother’s Day — time to celebrate moms and everything they do. To all of the great moms we see each day in our offices, taking excellent care of their children’s health and wellbeing, in addition to all of the other priorities that come with raising kids in our modern world: We see you, and we appreciate you!
We get so many positive things from our mothers! In addition to emotional care and support, sometimes we overlook the genetic and hereditary aspects we get from Mom. If you have brown, blue, or hazel eyes, your mother’s (and father’s) DNA plays a key role in that. Whether you have 20/20 vision, or have worn prescription lenses since you were in fifth grade, your mother (and father) plays a critical role in that, too.
One key factor that impacts eye health is your family history. Many eye conditions and diseases can be inherited from your parents, including retinal diseases, glaucoma, and cataracts. Understanding the genetic link between these conditions and your family history can help you take steps to protect your vision and detect any problems early on, when treatment can have the best possible impact.
This Mother’s Day, we thought it might be fun to take a look at which eye conditions may be passed down from your mother. And don’t worry, Dad – next month, we’ll focus on the eye conditions that you can pass along to your children. Spoiler alert: Color blindness is passed down from fathers.
Here are 5 eye conditions that may be inherited from your mother:
One of the most common eye conditions moms can pass along is nearsightedness, or myopia. It occurs when the eyeball itself is too long or the cornea is too curved. These extreme shapes cause light to focus incorrectly on the retina. This results in blurry vision when looking at distant objects. Myopia is a genetic condition, and if your mother has it, you have a higher risk of developing it. However, both genetics and environmental factors contribute to myopia, and studies show that you are more likely to inherit this condition from your father.
Another eye condition that can be inherited from your mother is astigmatism. In an astigmatic eye, the cornea or lens of the eye is somewhat misshapen, causing light to focus unevenly on the retina. This results in blurred or distorted vision. Astigmatism has a genetic component, so if your mother has it, you may be at a higher risk for it.
- Inherited Glaucoma
Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye conditions that can cause damage to the optic nerve, which results in (permanent) vision loss and can lead to blindness. In some cases, glaucoma can be inherited from your mother. Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. If either of your parents has glaucoma — or if any of your aunts, uncles, or grandparents do (or did) — it’s critical that you have an annual comprehensive eye exam every year. We want to help you learn the signs and symptoms of inherited glaucoma so we can catch it early and protect your vision.
Another condition that can be passed down from your mother (and your father) is cataracts. Cataracts are thick, cloudy areas that develop in the natural lens of the eye. They cause blurred vision and sensitivity to light. Cataracts are often an age-related condition in older adults and can be inherited from both parents. But if your mother has cataracts, you may be at a higher risk of developing them as well.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
The fifth and final inherited eye condition that we’ll share here is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Once again, this condition can be passed down by both your mother and father. AMD affects the central portion of the retina, called the macula — which is responsible for your close-up, detailed vision. AMD can cause vision loss and blindness, and it is more common in older adults. If your mother has AMD, you may be at a higher risk of developing it, but environmental factors and lifestyle can also play a role. (Don’t smoke! And if you do: Quit now!)
So this Mother’s Day, as we celebrate Mom with flowers and cards, it’s also a great time to talk with your mom about her health and ask questions about your family medical history that may be important to know as you grow older.
Another important question to ask: “Mom, have you scheduled your annual comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist this year?” You could even start a new family tradition: Schedule your eye exams on the same day each May so you can help each other pick out the exact right pair of frames that complement your (inherited!) face shape.
And remember: Just because a family member has an eye condition, it does not necessarily mean that you will develop it. However, knowing your family history can help you and your eye doctor monitor your eye health more closely and make any necessary lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of developing conditions that you may be genetically more likely to encounter.
If it’s time for your annual eye exam, call us today to schedule it. And, we hope you have a very happy, healthy Mother’s Day!