Eye disorders can be particularly devastating given how crucial clear vision is to all facets of our life. We receive a lot of information about our surroundings through our eyes, so much more than we comprehend. And when we are unable to observe them anymore, it can make navigating even minor tasks very challenging. The only way to restore some sight is through corrective lenses or surgery at an eye clinic. While many might believe that improper habits lead to degrading eyesight, sometimes the cause may be much more stealthy and invisible to the naked eye: family history. Therefore, in this blog, we will explore the relationship between this factor and retinal disease, one of the leading causes of vision problems. 

What is retinal disease?

It is the term given to a group of diseases that causes damage to parts of the retina. As the retina is responsible for absorbing light and converting it into signals for the brain to interpret, even minor issues could lead to significant problems with vision. If left untreated, the condition will decline and eventually lead to vision loss or, worse, blindness. Therefore early detection is essential. It will allow doctors to preserve your vision by either controlling or slowing down the rate of deterioration. In some cases, treatment to restore vision may also be possible. 

How does family history lead to it?

One of the categories of retinal disease is inherited retinal disease, also known as IRD. Genetic disorders affect one or more genes’ ability to do their task correctly, causing retinal issues. If there is a fault with the gene, proteins might not be made appropriately or even present, causing the retina’s cells to degenerate. The type of diseases that are part of this is hereditary and passed down from parents to children. They are also more severe than a retinal tear as they cause significant vision loss and blindness because they have degenerative qualities. 

When there is a family history of the condition, there is a high probability that you may have an inherited retinal disease. If you inherited the gene from both of your parents, then the risk is exponentially more. Even if your parents do not have the disease, but your extended family does, you will still be vulnerable to the condition. As the faulty gene can have issues at any time, regardless of your age or health, you may have a sudden onset of the disease.

Why is knowing your family history important?

Most people fail to consult an eye doctor in the early stages, instead attributing the symptoms to aging or other factors. As a result, they only have their eyes checked once their vision has worsened. However, if you know there is a family history, early detection will be possible. In addition, you already understand that there is a risk; once symptoms are observed, you can approach a specialist to see if a retinal disease might be present. You may even be able to do gene testing to know if you carry the gene so that you will be able to act quickly and take the necessary precautionary measures if you have children.

If you know any family member who has this disease, it will be wise to undergo the relevant testing and have your retinas examined by our specialist. If you detect the disease before it worsens, you can obtain timely retinal treatment and save your vision.