Genes play a significant factor in childhood vision problems. The risk factor can go as high as 60% in some cases. That is why eye doctors specialised in optometry need to conduct a thorough interview to determine the family history of the patient before making a diagnosis and predict future issues.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, there are 13.5 million Australians with short-sightedness and long-sightedness. Another 1.4 million have astigmatism, while about half a million are colour blind. Meanwhile, 131,500 are either completely or partially blind.
Here are some of the vision problems that can be inherited by your kids:
- Astigmatism — If you are dealing with astigmatism all your life, chances are, you will pass the condition on to your children. Astigmatism happens when the principal meridians are not perpendicular by 90 degrees. Regular astigmatism can be corrected using prescription and corrective glasses.
- Near-sightedness and far-sightedness – Myopia and hyperopia are often confused with astigmatism. Although distinct from each other, all conditions are refractive errors. Genes can also play a part in developing myopia and hyperopia.
With near-sightedness, the closer the objects, the clearer they are. With far-sightedness, it is harder to detect close objects, but easier to see from far away. One option is LASIK surgery, although it is very expensive. In Australia, the procedure can range from $2,500 up to $4,000 per eye, and there is no guarantee that the results will be permanent. In 5-10 years from now, you may undergo corrective surgery again due to myopic regression. Fortunately, one easier solution is that you can buy spectacles from places that specialise in optometry to correct both conditions, although eye doctors recommend that you need to change your prescription every two years.
- Colour blindness — This type of condition is usually hereditary. The anomaly is carried by the X chromosomes, which explains why there are more males than females who are colour blind. If the mother is the carrier of the gene, the son will have a 50% chance of inheriting it. The condition can be caused by trauma to the retina or optic nerve. There are glasses that can help individuals see the world in more accurate hues.
- Glaucoma — While everyone can develop glaucoma, some are more at risk than others. For instance, if you have immediate family members with primary open-angle glaucoma, the chances of the children developing the condition increase four to nine times.
If your kids are at risk of inheriting your eye problems, make sure to minimise the environmental factors that can worsen their conditions. You can limit the screen time for your kids, for example. Studies have established a link between the blue light from gadgets to digital eye strain.
However, if they need to spend hours on their computers for school-related projects, you can minimise the damage by buying them anti-reflective glasses. These specialised spectacles will help block off the blue light from the monitors to protect their eyes. More importantly, early research shows that wearing anti-blue light glasses at night help improve sleep.