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The Connection Between Genetics and Eye Health

The eye, one of the most complex parts of the human body, gives us the ability to perceive the world in detail. However, like any other systems in our body, the eye is prone to various conditions that can impair vision. While many of these conditions are attributed to chemicals and unhealthy lifestyle habits, some can also be caused by genes, which are the basic building blocks of life that provide instructions to the body to function. In this article, readers will learn about some of the common genetically inherited eye conditions and potential treatments for improving them


To begin with, numerous eye conditions ranging from common refractive errors like myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) to more severe disorders such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinitis pigmentosa contain a genetic component. In essence, inherited genetic mutations can contribute to the development and progression of these conditions. According to University Hospitals, many eye diseases tend to run in families, with recent studies having identified more than 350 eye diseases with a hereditary link. For example, myopia, which affects billions of people worldwide, has been linked to genetic factors. Studies have identified several genes associated with the development of myopia, including those involved in the regulation of eye growth and refractive error

Furthermore, inherited retinal diseases (IRDs), such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration, are characterized by progressive degeneration of the retina that leads to vision loss. These conditions often have a strong genetic component, with scientists having discovered over 300 genes that cause IRDS. In fact, mutations, which is a change in a gene, can contribute to their onset and severity. Likewise, genetic factors may interact with environmental influences, such as lifestyle choices and exposure to certain toxins, to increase an individual's risk of developing certain eye diseases. Thus, understanding the influences of genetic and environmental factors on an eye condition is essential for predicting an individual's likelihood of developing a particular eye condition and implementing preventive measures that are most suitable for the individual


In conclusion,, with our communities' continuing growing understanding of the genetic basis of eye conditions through research and other initiatives, there is scope for personalized approaches to more effective vision care and treatment options for various eye conditions


Sources:

"Genetic Testing for Inherited Retinal Diseases." Fighting Blindness Canada, https://www.fightingblindness.ca/resources/genetic-testing-for-inherited-retinal-diseases/. "Inherited Eye Diseases: The Importance of Early Diagnosis." University Hospitals, 4 March 2024, https://www.uhhospitals.org/blog/articles/2024/03/inherited-eye-diseases-the- importance-of-early-diagnosis. Raju, Leela, and Vicente Diaz. "Is blindness genetic? Causes of hereditary blindness." Medical News Today, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/is-blindness-genetic. Singh, Mahavir, and Suresh C. Tyagi. “Genes and genetics in eye diseases: a genomic medicine approach for investigating hereditary and inflammatory ocular disorders." NCBI, 18 January 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5767668/.


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