At Lake Havasu Family Eyecare, we love taking time to get to know our patients — it’s not only enjoyable, but it helps us better do our jobs. This means that we ask you a lot of questions, one of the most important of which is this: What can you tell us about your family’s medical history?
When it comes to the eyes, many conditions and diseases are hereditary, meaning that your family’s history of eye conditions or general medical problems may affect your own sight. We use some of the industry’s most advanced technology to help diagnose and treat eye conditions, and by learning your family history, we’re better able to tailor our care to your needs.
To help illustrate why we ask this question, here are a few hereditary eye conditions to keep in mind:
Do You Wear Glasses?
Your Child May Need to Wear Them as Well.
Refractive errors are issues with vision that require you to use prescription eyewear in order to see clearly. These conditions are often passed down through your genes, meaning that if you or your parents need to wear glasses, it’s more likely that your child will have to wear glasses as well. The most common refractive errors are:
The cornea is too curved, or the eyeball is too long, causing nearby objects to appear clear but farther away objects to look blurry
The cornea is too flat, or the eyeball is too short, which causes far away objects to appear clear and nearby objects to look blurry
An irregular curvature or misshapen areas of the cornea that causes vision to be blurry or distorted
Strabismus and Amblyopia Can Be Inherited
Strabismus describes a condition where the eyes aren’t aligned properly and can’t look in the same direction at the same time. Commonly referred to as crossed eyes, strabismus is often caused by poor control of the eye muscles. While crossed eyes can usually be corrected with early treatment, if untreated, it can lead to amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye”.
While both amblyopia and strabismus can occur independently, having strabismus puts you at great risk for developing amblyopia if not addressed in time. This is why knowing your family’s experience with the condition is very valuable. This helps our eye doctors better care for your vision — it helps us understand what to look for.
What Are Your Genetic Risks for Eye Disease?
Eye diseases can often be inherited. In fact, inherited eye diseases cause more than 60 percent of the cases of blindness among infants. It’s important to know your family’s history with a specific disease in order to help our doctors protect your vision.
Many eye diseases, such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can cause irreversible vision loss before exhibiting any noticeable symptoms. However, if we’re aware of your family’s history with the disease, our optometrists can use our advanced technology to closely monitor your eyes. This means that, if you end up developing a disease, we can treat it early and potentially save your vision.
General Health Conditions Can Affect Your Eyes
During your first appointment at Lake Havasu Family Eyecare, we’ll ask you about more than just your family’s history with eye disease. We’ll also ask you about your family’s history with general health conditions. You might think some of these questions have little to do with the eyes; however, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Many genetically inherited health complications can cause eye problems, including:
- Autoimmune conditions
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Sickle cell disease
In some cases, your eyes may show signs of a genetic condition or disease before you are diagnosed. So, even if you don’t suffer from any conditions at the time of your eye exam, informing our doctors about your potential risks can help us keep watch for signs of an underlying problem in your eyes.
Knowing Your Family History Can Help Your Eye Doctors & Your Vision
At Lake Havasu Family Eyecare, we do everything in our power to protect your vision and ensure that your eyes are healthy. Our experienced optometrists have industry-leading technology at their fingertips, but in order to know which tests and evaluations will help you the most, we need to understand your family’s health history.
If you have any questions about you or your family’s risk for vision problems or want to schedule an appointment to evaluate and protect your eye health, book an appointment or call us at (928) 264-8951.