Many eye diseases are difficult to detect in their early stages, as they present no visible symptoms. However, early diagnosis can mean more effective treatment, which can even be the difference between saving or losing your vision.
How Are Family History and Eye Health Related?
Some serious eye conditions run in the family; for instance, if you have close relatives with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there is a 50 percent chance that you will suffer from the disease, explains Eye Smart. If you have a family history of glaucoma, your risk of developing the condition is four to nine times higher than if no one in your family suffers from the disease.
Just as you share your family medical history with your doctor, you should share any history of eye problems with your ophthalmologist during your comprehensive eye exams. Your eye doctor may use this information to recommend more frequent tests, such as additional dilated eye exams to check for the most common vision problems.
By at least the age of 40, you should begin receiving baseline eye disease screenings. These enable your ophthalmologist to diagnose eye diseases early and examine the causes of any changes to your vision. Baseline exams are not only important for your own eye health but also that of your family — if you discover that you are afflicted with an eye disease, you can share this knowledge with family members and encourage them to receive their own comprehensive eye exams.
Your family history is not the only factor that determines your risk of eye diseases — another contributor is the amount of time you spend in the sun without UV protection. As damage is cumulative, beginning in childhood when the eyes are more sensitive, you should start taking precautions when your kids are infants, making sure that they always wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays.
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