Many people don’t know that in some cases, eye and retinal disease can be linked to genetics. In fact, conditions such as retinal detachment, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and glaucoma are all commonly associated with hereditary risk.

Whether it’s to do with a naturally-thin retina at birth, or the rate at which your retina deteriorates, your genetic makeup can have a significant impact on your overall eye health.

For those who are aware of a history of eye disease within their family, it’s likely you’ll already be making regular visits to an ophthalmologist. For those who are not yet aware, uncovering this information as soon as possible can be vital for ensuring a wider range of treatment options. In fact, some people might view a known history of hereditary eye disease as a valuable opportunity to get ahead of it!

Regardless of your family’s history, regular checkups with a retina specialist are essential for protecting your eyes and vision. That said, if you’re new to the world of hereditary eye disease, here’s 5 things your ophthalmologist wants you to know:

1. Retina experts will always advise you not to panic

Did you know that more than 350 retinal and eye conditions can be attributed to genetics? Unfortunately, most people are also unaware of this fact until they’ve already received a diagnosis.

This lack of awareness can often result in patients at our eye clinic in Venice, FL beginning to panic when faced with a diagnosis. Even though our eye doctors appreciate that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by information relating to your eye health, it’s also important to remember that we’re experts for a reason.

Having trained for an average of 12 years, there are few conditions that our ophthalmologists haven’t been able to create a treatment plan for. This is why upon visiting our eye clinic in Venice, you’ll soon realize that any panic you’ve been feeling is unfounded.

That said, the sooner retinal disease is identified, the more treatment options will be available to you. This is why regular checkups with an ophthalmologist are essential — regardless of your family’s history!

2. It’s not a foregone conclusion that you’ll develop eye disease

Even though a large portion of eye and retina conditions can be attributed to your gene pool, it’s not guaranteed that a family history of the condition means you’ll develop it.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that everyone is at risk of developing eye and retinal disease — which again, is why regular visits to a retina specialist is essential for everyone.

However, it can’t be denied that your risk of developing complications with your vision is higher if you have a family history of eye disease. For example, having a family history of glaucoma increases your chances of developing the disease by up to 9 times.

This is why for people with a family history of eye disease, it’s vital to:

  • Research any symptoms you should be looking out for
  • Schedule regular visits with a reliable ophthalmologist
  • Not increase your risk of developing the disease (e.g., smoking can accelerate the progression of diseases such as age-related macular degeneration)
  • Ensure other family members also schedule regular visits with an eye doctor (conditions such as congenital cataracts can be identified at birth, so visits for children can also be important)

3. Sharing details about retinal disease can help your family

As mentioned, the best way to protect your vision against harmful diseases is to find out about them as early as possible. This is why it’s vital to always share information about your eye health with family members and maintain an open dialogue about the progression of conditions.

Even though your eye health might feel like a private matter, around 1 in 1,000 people are affected by hereditary eye disease worldwide. To ensure that you or your family members don’t leave it too long to uncover potential risks to their eye health, it’s always best to talk openly about your vision (and your health in general!).

4. Your ophthalmologist will have the widest range of treatment options available

Many people are confused about the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist. Even though an optometrist can examine, treat, and diagnose eye-related conditions — the range of treatment options they can offer does not include surgery or some medical treatments.

This is because unlike ophthalmologists, optometrists are not trained in both medical and surgical treatments for the eyes. As we’ve already discussed, ophthalmologists train for an average of 12 years to deliver you the widest range of treatment options there is. This is why if you have a family history of eye or retinal disease to investigate, an ophthalmologist is your best option.

5. Regular visits to our eye clinic in Venice, FL can be for the whole family

Hereditary eye conditions can develop at any age. This is why if you’ve found a good ophthalmologist, it’s often a good idea to recommend that your entire family visits the same one.

Even though it’s not essential for your entire family to visit the same ophthalmologist, some of the benefits include:

  • It gives your ophthalmologist a better overview of your entire family’s eye health
  • If younger generations attend the same clinic, medical notes relating to family history can be more easily tracked (with full permission from the patients of course!)
  • Appointments can be easier to schedule if one household wants to attend at the same time (at our Venice, FL clinic, we’ll always do our best to accommodate family members wanting to visit together)

Why choose Venice Retina eye clinic in Florida?

As retina specialists, we’ve treated a high volume of retinal diseases that can be connected to genetics. This is why there’s no better team to visit if you think there might be a history of eye disease in your family.

Even without hereditary factors in place, your vision is an important part of your overall health. This is why scheduling an eye exam at our clinic in Venice, FL is one of the best things you can do for yourself, regardless of your age or risk factors!

If you’d like to schedule an eye exam, or just speak with one of our retina specialists, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Our ophthalmologists are always happy to use their expertise to help you protect your vision long-term.

About the Author: Venice Retina
Venice Retina is an ophthalmology practice that specializes in retina care, in Venice Florida. Founded by Dr. Anita Shane, Venice Retina specializes in the treatment of most retinal issues, including macular degeneration (including eye injections), floaters and flashes, retinal detachments, and more. If you have an issue with your retina, and you in Venice, Englewood, North Port or other nearby areas of Southwest Florida, please contact us today to get the retina help that you need from our experienced ophthalmologists.

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